Brief findings of the study
Despite its low attention to migration issues, Ukraine is becoming more and more involved in the global migration processes. The number of Ukrainian labor migrants who work abroad, according to different estimates, is between 2.7 and 4 million, and the number of people of Ukrainian origin in the world in general is estimated at 12-20 million. In recent years, the number of foreigners who come to Ukraine has been gradually growing. Due to the war in Eastern Ukraine, about 1.5 million people have received the status of internally displaced persons.
The areas of work of organizations that target mobile populations vary from humanitarian and social aid, legal consulting, human rights advocacy to cultural diplomacy and international relations.
The participants of the study noted increased connections and partnerships with other CSOs since the Maidan events and the beginning of the war in Eastern Ukraine. Cooperation between organizations takes different forms: exchanging information and experience, redirecting beneficiaries’ requests, partial engagement in other organizations’ projects, implementing joint projects, obtaining organizational development services, participating in informal coalitions. The degree and format of interactions with other CSOs depends on the sphere and purpose of the organization’s activities, the presence of international donors, and the organization’s country of operation. Obstacles to cooperation with other CSOs include the lack of information about the activities and needs of partner organizations, the demand for high professionalism in partners, the lack of successful experience of intersectoral cooperation, and political or ideological contradictions.
The informants noted that the period of surge in the interactions between CSOs and government agencies has passed, but the qualitative change which they expected has not taken place. Although the government does not oppose civil initiatives, the effectiveness of interactions has not improved. At the same time, regional organizations have noted positive changes in the work of local government bodies. Interaction between CSOs and government agencies has been taking place in three areas: conducting advocacy campaigns and involvement in drafting legislation, capacity building for government agencies (training specialists from public institutions and monitoring the activities of government agencies), maintaining connections and relations. The obstacles to cooperation with government agencies include staff turnover in government institutions and their lack of institutional memory; the fact that public officials who can
influence policies sometimes do not participate in interactions with CSOs; insufficient trust in government agencies; the low priority of migration-related issues; insufficient financial support for CSOs from the state.
The institutional capacity of a CSO depends on how long the organization has existed. Organizations that have been working for a long time are well-developed institutionally and aim to institutionally develop younger CSOs. The organizations that formed during the Maidan events have undergone institutional development or ceased to exist by now. In their day-to-day work, CSOs are guided by their goals, although they are flexible if new challenges emerge. CSOs learn about new problems mainly from their beneficiaries, from monitoring visits, traditional and social media analysis, monitoring legislation changes, and less frequently from research. The organizations’ attitudes towards research depend on how successful their prior experience was.
Most of the study participants spoke about certain instability of their work due to insufficient or unstable funding. As they realize the risks of unstable funding, CSOs try to diversify their funding sources, but there are not many successful examples of obtaining funding for their activities from alternative sources. The sustainability of the work of grassroots volunteer organizations depends on the engagement of their active members. An organization’s ability to involve and retain staff depends on its financial stability. High professionalism of the staff is especially important in organizations which work with vulnerable groups of migrants (refugees, human trafficking victims). According to the study participants, improved communication and expansion of regional representation could improve the work of their CSOs.
CSOs mentioned the difficulties they faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the informants spoke about introducing organizational changes to mitigate the negative effects of the quarantine restrictions. Despite this, organizations for which in-person contacts are especially important have been forced to reduce the scope or quality of their work. At the same time, organizations that worked remotely even before the pandemic (such as call centers) noted that their workload had increased.