The number of refugees in Russia has skyrocketed in the past few years. Multiple migrant crises have affected the Russian Federation, leading to domestic tensions. Where has this influx of refugees come from, and what is life like for refugees in Russia? Ahead are seven facts about refugees in Russia.
- In 2013, Russia received 3,458 refugees. The next year there were 235,750. In 2015, the refugee population in Russia was greater than 300,000.
- In 2011, the Syrian civil war saw refugees escaping to nearby countries such as Lebanon and Turkey, and by 2013, total Syrian refugees numbered more than two million. The Federal Migration Service of Russia recorded 7,096 Syrian citizens in Russia in 2016. Russia has granted refugee status to just two Syrians.
- There are a few charity-run schools for refugee children in Russia. Still, many parents fear sending their children to school, worrying that it raises the risk of being questioned by the authorities. Syrians who have lived in Russia for years and become citizens say that officials are inhospitable, according to VOA News.
- In 2015, Russia accepted more than 380,000 Ukrainians seeking asylum. Many Ukrainian refugees are officially registered, and receive financial assistance and amenities from the government.
- Based on a poll of Russian citizens in 2014, about one-quarter of the country believes the government does too much for refugees. This number almost doubled in the regions near the Ukrainian border, which received the most refugees and aid.
- Many Meskhetian Turks, followers of Islam originating from Georgia or Uzbekistan, have lived in Russia for the required residency period but are still denied citizenship.
- Following strengthened ties between Russia and North Korea, Russia agreed to repatriate undocumented North Korean citizens found within its borders. Russian refugee group Civic Assistance says there may be hundreds of undocumented North Koreans living in Siberia and the Far East.
Despite varying policies for refugees in Russia, those seeking asylum have much in common. Many refugees in Russia wish to return home or find a place with better living conditions. Many, however, face hostility from the surrounding community.
– Michael Rose