“If possible, bring valid travel documents with you when you leave (means biometric passport, power of attorney for a child, etc. – “Kommersant”), – says a polite note in Russian and Ukrainian, published on the official website of the European Commission. “However, the lack of travel or medical documents (vaccination certificate, COVID-19 test) will not be an obstacle to entry into the EU.”
All those who “escape the war in Ukraine for humanitarian reasons”, the note says, can now enter neighboring countries and EU countries even without documents, and on the spot can already receive “temporary asylum and basic necessities such as food and medical care. “
The mechanism for granting temporary asylum to refugees has been in place since 2001, but has never been implemented in the EU.
It was activated for the first time after the launch of the “special military operation” and the subsequent urgent decision of the leaders of the EU countries to start implementing the Temporary Protection Directive from the beginning of March.
The refugee problem is a long-standing scourge of European countries. The peak of the immigration crisis in recent years was in 2015-2016, when 2.4 million asylum applications were submitted in EU countries, mainly by refugees from Syria and Iraq. Now, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in just one month, from February 24 to March 29, 4,019,287 people have left Ukraine. Of these, more than 350 thousand went to Russia, more than 387 thousand to Moldova. And almost 3.3 million have settled in EU countries.
Thanks to the activation of a special legal protection mechanism, for the first time in the post-war history of Europe, EU countries help everyone immediately and do not consider asylum applications individually. According to Reuters, 800,000 people have formally applied for temporary protection so far (probably not everyone has yet figured out in which country to seek refuge). They will be granted a residence permit, access to medical care, labor market, housing and education for children. And all this until March 4, 2023.
Refugees are unequally distributed across the EU.
Thus, more than 30 thousand people moved to France and the main burden falls on Poland – more than 2.3 million people went there, according to the UN, although not all will stay there. Registration, vaccination and temporary accommodation points are organized for the refugees, they are consulted, they are provided with clothes, medicines and food. In addition to the authorized bodies, ordinary Poles and businesses – medical centers, hotels, shops – help the refugees.
“Everything is based on this peak of private initiatives and organized assistance from the city. Many people are willing to invest money, power and things, ready to volunteer. “Everyone understands that this causes some inconvenience, but they deal with it calmly and understandingly,” one of the Warsaw volunteers who worked at the station and in temporary shelters told Kommersant. The centers do not have simple beds, but also outlets for clothes and other necessary things, kitchens and canteens, where volunteers work, and children’s corners.
Among the volunteers are Poles, Ukrainians, Belarusians, Russians.
“If you know Polish, then it does not matter where you are from, it is important to be able to act as an interpreter between the city’s bodies and those who need help,” says Kommersant’s interlocutor. – At the 24-hour reception point of the station, a voluntary shift lasts six hours. Fill out an online questionnaire and access an online diary, choose a place to work and a period of time. Before each shift, there is an update: there are places in Warsaw where buses leave for other cities. Volunteers meet visitors: do they need medical or psychological help? Those who need food, blankets, sanitary ware can get them at the delivery points equipped right at the station. Doctors also work here. Then each visitor fills out a questionnaire, everyone is given a SIM card with mobile internet, you can leave Poland for free with a Ukrainian passport further, simply telling you where to go. Many are transported by minibuses that have arrived from Germany, Finland, Portugal and are ready to carry a certain number of people to their place. “Except for Poland, as I understand it, everything is also free.”
Aid to refugees is funded by both mass donations and public funds. Some € 3.4 billion will be allocated to participating countries for the reception and assistance of refugees from the European budget through the REACT-EU socio-economic assistance initiative, but the national annual contribution to this fund for EU countries will increase by one one and a half times.
At the same time, European countries had to face not only serious economic burdens but also social problems.
Although many European countries in recent years have struggled to provide places in schools and kindergartens and the quality of school education, now the children of Ukraine must also provide places in educational institutions. If in the “last” immigration crisis, when Europe was trying to deal with the influx of refugees from the countries of the Middle East and North Africa, many noticed that they were mostly young men who had to be accepted, then among the Ukrainian refugees the majority are women and children.
According to the UN, more than 1.5 million minors have left Ukraine and will need medical and psychological assistance, medicines and vaccines, as well as educational materials in their mother tongue.
“My cousin and daughter are from Kharkov, a 13-year-old girl,” a resident of Aachen, Germany, to whom relatives moved two weeks ago, told Kommersant. – Immediately they gave me a place in high school and 650 € for two for a month. Free language courses opened very quickly, providing free transportation by bus and local train. In high school they now have only German and international math classes. “Of the 16 people, three are from Ukraine.”
At the same time, refugees from the Middle East and Africa, who have been waiting for months and years for their applications to be considered, have gone nowhere and are already outraged by how quickly their “competitors” from Ukraine are getting university degrees or work permits.
“In order to effectively, efficiently and quickly organize the process of receiving and adapting such a large number of refugees to the living conditions in our democracy, we need the coordinated work of representatives of many services – from police, firefighters and doctors to leaders at various levels. “, The head of the Czech Interior Ministry Vit Rakusan. The Czech Republic has already received more than 300,000 refugees and has extended the state of emergency from March 4 to the end of May. Authorities fear the number of refugees will not decrease during this period, but may even increase.