EU hopes to provide blanket protection to Ukrainian refugees

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EU hopes to provide blanket protection to Ukrainian refugees

The EU is expected to provide temporary protection to all Ukrainians, as record numbers of refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion move into the bloc, which rights advocates have warned could turn into a massive humanitarian crisis. Is.

More than 870,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russian incursions began last Thursday, according to the UN refugee agency, with the overwhelming majority reaching EU countries including Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

The exodus of people, in some cases leaving their homes, families, careers or education, is one of the largest outflows of refugees across Europe’s borders in recent decades. The UN refugee agency has warned that the displacement of so many people could become Europe’s biggest refugee crisis of this century.

According to the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, four million Ukrainians are expected to leave their country as a result of the conflict.

As fears of a humanitarian crisis intensify, the Commission on Wednesday asked the 27 national governments of the EU To trigger a special mechanism that would provide three years of blanket protection for all Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

Under the measure, which will apply to Ukrainian citizens as well as foreigners who are long-time residents, refugees or asylum seekers in Ukraine, those who are eligible will be given the right to live, study and work throughout the bloc. three years. In parallel, they could also apply for long-term asylum.

Foreign students and temporary workers fleeing Ukraine will not be given blanket protection, but will be allowed to cross into the bloc, and will be sent home unless there is an “obstacle” for them to return to their home countries. Ho. Ukraine has been home to many African and Asian students and temporary workers, some of whom have reported discrimination from Ukrainian authorities when trying to flee.

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The initiative is expected to be ratified by most member states on Thursday, as Europe is galvanized to action by the human toll of a nearby war.

The warm embrace of Ukrainian refugees contrasts with a European refugee crisis in 2015, when more than a million refugees, many of them fleeing conflict and conflict in the Middle East and Africa, poured into the bloc, provoking an anti-immigrant backlash. was given. and supporting right-wing political parties.

While the solidarity shown to Ukrainian refugees has been welcomed by rights advocates, some say the different response suggests a humanitarian double standard, others prioritizing aid to white Christians over Europe’s collective responsibility to flee conflict. to help.

So far, most Ukrainians have been able to travel freely in the block visa-free for up to 90 days. Many already joined relatives and friends in countries with a large Ukrainian diaspora, such as the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

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Poland, which already hosts a large Ukrainian population, has seen nearly 500,000 people arrive in the past week. Ukrainian refugees arriving there are met with solidarity from both ordinary Poles and the Polish government.

On Wednesday, representatives of the Hungarian and Polish governments spoke to highlight the differences between Ukrainian refugees and those arriving from other regions. “So far, more than 100,000 refugees have arrived in Hungary,” said Zoltan Kovacs, spokesman for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has conducted raids in the past against the threat of migrants and encroaching Islam.

“We are looking after them, we are ready to accept them,” Mr Kovacs said, referring to the latest influx of Ukrainian refugees. “The claim of our political opponents that we are allowing illegal immigrants to enter Hungary is an outrageous lie.”

The so-called Temporary Security Directive was created during the refugee crisis of 2001 in Kosovo, when thousands of ethnic-Albanians fled after the war in the Balkans. But since then it has not been activated. Asked why it was not used to provide security to Syrian refugees in 2015, when Syrians were fleeing civil war in their country, an EU official said it did not make sense at the time.

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