EC: About 4M people fleeing war in Ukraine granted protection in EU

Since the European Commission (EC) triggered on March 4 2022 the Temporary Protection Directive for people fleeing Russia’s war on Ukraine, about four million people have been granted immediate protection in the EU, including more than three million in the first half of 2022, the EC said on March 8.

The EC announced this in a statement that it had adopted on March 8 a  Communication on the Temporary Protection Directive.

All those registered had the right to access the labour market, education, healthcare, and accommodation.

“The EU’s response to the war in Ukraine shows once more what is possible when the EU acts united,” the EC said.

It said that the Temporary Protection Directive had proven to be an essential instrument to provide immediate protection in the EU and it should remain part of the toolbox available to the EU in the future.

The directive provided immediate protection while reducing formalities to the minimum. It complemented such protection with a comprehensive and harmonised set of rights, the EC said.

These included access to registration and documentation. Member states swiftly set up the procedures for registration and issuance of necessary documentation.

There was special protection for children. Currently close to a fifth of Ukraine’s children are taking refuge in the EU.

It provided for access to education and vocational training. As of the beginning of the school year last September, about half a million Ukrainian children were enrolled in education systems across the EU.

It addressed risks of trafficking in human beings and supporting victims of war crimes, the EC said. The EU put in place the Common Anti-trafficking Plan to raise awareness among the displaced people and prevent human trafficking.

The directive provided for access to healthcare and social benefits. Close to 2000 Ukrainian patients have been evacuated successfully to 20 EU and EEA countries, mental health and psychosocial support offered in the majority of member states to those who fled the war.

It provided for access to jobs, the EC said. About one million displaced people are in employment across Europe and the EU has set up a Talent Pool Pilot to support labour market integration.

It also provided for access to accommodation and housing. The ‘Safe Homes‘ guidance assists EU countries, regional and local authorities, and civil society in the organisation of private housing initiatives.

The EC awarded 5.5 million euro to the project run by the International Federation of Red Cross supporting the implementation of the Safe Homes and launched a call for proposals for project grants to further promote community sponsorship schemes.

“The Solidarity Platform ‘Ukraine’ set up by the Commission immediately after the activation of the Directive has played a crucial role in ensuring a coordinated response,” the EC said.

The EC and its agencies have provided operational support to EU countries in implementing the directive, the Commission said.

The EU Agency for Asylum is supporting 13 member states with their asylum, reception and temporary protection needs.

About 200 Frontex staff are deployed to the front-line member states and Moldova to support their border management.

Europol has also deployed staff and guest officers to conduct secondary security checks to five member states and Moldova.

Three EU Civil Protection Mechanism hubs were established in EU countries to channel more than 80 000 tons of in-kind assistance to Ukraine.

The EU has also provided a financial support to address the needs of displaced persons. The EU has provided a total of 13.6 billion euro in additional funding through its CARE and FAST-CARE packages. A billion euro was reprogrammed under the cohesion funds and 400 million euro was made available under Home Affairs funds.

The EU has also stepped up its cooperation with international partners such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as with relevant international organisations, the EC said.

“The European Union is ready to support Ukraine for as long as it takes,” the statement said.

Protection has already been extended until March 2024 and can be further extended until 2025.

The Commission is ready to take the necessary steps for further prolongation if needed, the statement said.

“At the same time, a strong EU coordinated approach will be pursued to ensure a smooth transition to alternative legal statuses that would allow access to rights beyond the maximum duration of temporary protection, and targeted support for persons who, having fled Ukraine, want to go back home,” the EC said.

(Archive photo, from April 2022: EC Audiovisual Service/Dan Gutu)

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