“Arrival” Infrastructures of the Displaced from Ukraine in Vienna

Panels and Discussions

Soon we will mark a year since the full-scale Russo-Ukrainian War started, and more than fourteen million people fled their homes to find refuge in other regions of Ukraine or abroad. The EU countries emerged as the major destination. In response to this largest wave of mass influx since WWII, the EU activated the regime of temporary protection to provide a legal framework for displaced people to arrive and stay in the member states. More than four hundred thirty thousand people from Ukraine crossed the Austrian border. As of December 2022, more than ninety thousand registered for temporary protection in Austria and, of them, more than twenty-five thousand – in Vienna. The response to this influx has been marked by unprecedented involvement of civil society (NGOs, various initiatives, activists, and those who hosted displaced people in their accommodation). Still, many displaced people from Ukraine who stayed in Austria continue to experience multiple difficulties related to the status of their stay, availability of sufficient accommodation, access to the labor market, and other issues.

These questions became the focus of the research project launched by the IWM within its Europe-Asia Research Platform on Forced Migration and directed by IWM Permanent Fellow, Ayşe Çağlar. The project has explored the reception of the displaced people from Ukraine in the city of Vienna as it was managed by the federal and city government, NGOs, and civil initiatives within the European and national legislative frameworks. The research further investigated how the existing structures and processes shaped the emplacement of those staying in Austria and their experiences. To this end, a team of researchers conducted dozens of interviews with people who fled Ukraine and those who were involved in the management and governance of the displaced in Vienna.

Reviewing the outcomes of the research, the IWM organized a panel discussion with different stakeholders from the city, NGOs, civil initiatives, and people from Ukraine to present key findings and discuss the most salient questions about ‘arrival infrastructures’ in Vienna. In this public event, the following questions were addressed:

• How could we take stock of management and governance of mass arrivals of people displaced from Ukraine? How is it (dis)similar to precedents of other mass influxes into the EU?
• How can we assess the role and responsibilities shouldered by the representatives of civil society? What are the benefits and discontents of a strong reliance on civil society?
• How are the displaced from Ukraine situated vis-à-vis asylum seekers and refugees?
• What are the discontents of including the beneficiaries of temporary protection in the
Grundversorgung system?
• What are the main challenges the governance of the displaced from Ukraine posed to
the City of Vienna, and to the NGOs?


David Himler-Preukschat, Caritas Wien

Nina Andresen, Train of Hope

Tanja Maier, Cards for Ukraine, independent volunteer

Nataliia Kolchanova, Psychologist, displaced person from Ukraine

Saskia Schwaiger, Crisis Management City of Vienna/Ukraine

Ayşe Çağlar, IWM Permanent Fellow

A recording of the event is available below.