Kyiv, July 25 (Interfax-Ukraine) – In general Spaniards see Ukrainian immigrants as hardworking and educated people, according to the results of a study conducted by the Barcelona Center for International Affairs (CIDOB).
“There is generally a positive perception of Ukrainian immigrants by the local population, the authorities and other visitors in the places where they are highly concentrated. Interviewed experts pointed out that Spaniards usually associate Ukrainians with diligence, intelligence, reliability, responsibility, sincerity and kindness. The children of the Ukrainian migrants study very well at school and are notable for this,” center researcher Elena Sanchez-Montiyano said in Kyiv on Thursday during a presentation of the 2012 study, which was based on official statistics, opinion polls, media, interviews with Spanish experts, scholars, politicians.
At the same time, the study showed that the Ukrainian community is not very noticeable among the other groups of migrants and in Spanish society as a whole. It has a generally positive image, although sometimes features of other groups of migrants from Eastern European countries, which often have a negative image, are wrongly applied to Ukrainians.
However, there is a lot of news about Ukraine, especially in recent months, only 5% of which is directly related to Ukrainian immigrants in Spain. They are mentioned in the news with negative associations such as the mafia, prostitution, gender violence, theft, which are usually associated with broader categories of migrants and other ethnic groups, in particular, with immigrants from Russia.
The authors of the study, referring to the opinions of polled experts, stressed the need to resolve some problems in the visa practice in Spain in relation to Ukrainians, to conduct a study on the Ukrainian diaspora in this country and the activities for the promotion of knowledge and adequate understanding of Ukrainians, and to strengthen the relations between two countries. It is also important to begin debates within Spanish society to recognize the political rights and political participation of Ukrainian migrants who have been legally living in Spain several years.
Ukraine is the source of the third largest number of migrants in Spain from Central and Eastern Europe. Twenty years ago there was practically no Ukrainian community in this country, but over the last decade, Spain, along with Portugal and Italy, has become one of the main recipient countries for Ukrainian migrant workers. As of 2011 there were almost 84,400 Ukrainian citizens in Spain. But unofficial statistics also includes people who expect to renew their residence permits, people that have no such permits, and minors. Thus, the number of Ukrainians in Spain could be as high as 200,000 people.
A study by the public initiative “Europe Without Barriers”, in which 100 migrants were interviewed, shows that 89% of Ukrainian immigrants in Spain are from the western regions of Ukraine, and 11% from the central and southeastern regions.
The highest concentration of them is in Catalonia, Madrid, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia and the Basque Country. Some 38% of the “Spanish” Ukrainians are from 31 to 40 years old, 55% of migrants are women and 45% men, and half of them have a higher education. Predominantly they work in the service sphere, work as housekeepers, or work in industry and construction.
According to the poll, 69% of Ukrainians migrated to Spain did so because of low salaries at home, 17.24% because of lack of work, 8% for the sake of creating a family, and 3.44% because of dissatisfaction with the political situation in Ukraine.
As the experts reported, 85% of those polled legally moved to Spain, stay and work there legally, and for 79% of people it is essential to stay in this country legally. Some 59% said they would not work illegally, while 38% would do so only under certain circumstances.
Sixty-nine percent of Ukrainians came to Spain to earn money, 13% for personal reasons, 8% to advance their careers, and 6% to study.
The biggest problem faced by Ukrainians in Spain is language. There are also problems associated with the non-payment of wages, finding housing, and getting medical care. At the same time 81.6% of respondents learned Spanish during their time in the country. And, even despite the crisis in Spain, Ukrainians still want to travel to this country.
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