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Waves of migration from Ukraine – a conventional delineation of four major waves of large-scale migration from Ukraine from the end of the nineteenth century to the present.

The “first wave” began in the final decades of the nineteenth  century and lasted until the outbreak of the First World War. As a result of government resettlement campaigns in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires, many Ukrainians migrated to Central Asia and the Far East, or to the Balkans (Vojvodina and Bosnia), respectively. At the same time large numbers of Ukrainians from Galicia and Bukovyna within Austria-Hungary chose to escape economic hardship by seeking a better life in other countries, primarily in North and South America. Several hundred of the latter came to the United Kingdom.

The “second wave”, from 1920 to 1930, was essentially of a political nature, involving mainly those who left Ukraine after participating in the 1917-1920 struggle for Ukrainian independence. Initially they settled mainly in Central and Western Europe, but later many migrated to the Americas. The UK was only marginally affected by this wave.

The “third wave” lasted from 1940 to 1954 and comprised those Ukrainians who were displaced from Ukraine as a result of the Second World War and chose not to return after the war. Initially accommodated mainly in camps for displaced persons or prisoners-of-war, most of them subsequently settled in various countries in Western Europe, North or South America or Australasia. Around 34,000-36,000 people came to the UK, some of whom later emigrated to other countries.

The “fourth wave” began in the second half of the 1980s as a result of the liberalisation of the political system in the USSR, intensified after Ukraine’s declaration of independence and continues to the present. The economic crisis which accompanied the break-up of the USSR and the establishment of independent Ukraine led to millions of Ukrainians leaving the country to seek work elsewhere, including in the UK.

(see Ukrainians in the United Kingdom)


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