2022 Ukrainian refugee crisis

refugee crisis during the Russian war on Ukraine 2022

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Refugees crossing into Poland, 7 March 2022

An ongoing refugee crisis began in Europe in late February 2022 after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. More than 4.4 million refugees have since left Ukraine (as of 7 April 2022),[1] while an estimated 6.5 million people have been displaced within the country (as of 18 March 2022).[2] In total, more than ten million people – approximately one-quarter of the country's total population – had left their homes in Ukraine by 20 March.[3] By March 24, 2022, according to UNICEF, more than half of all children in Ukraine had been forced to leave their homes.[4][5] The invasion has caused Europe's largest refugee crisis since World War II and its aftermath,[6] the first of its kind in Europe since the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s,[7][8] and one of the largest refugee crises in the world in the 21st century, with the highest refugee flight rate in the world.[9][10]

The vast majority of refugees have directly entered neighbouring nations to the west of Ukraine. Poland has received more refugees from Ukraine than all other European countries combined.[1] Other countries neighbouring Ukraine that have received refugees are Romania, Moldova, Hungary and Slovakia.[11] Some refugees have then moved further west to other European countries and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere.[12] However, observers note that most are likely to stay in Poland and other countries in Central Europe because "tight labour markets, affordable cities and a pre-existing diaspora have made those countries more appealing alternatives for Ukrainians, who find options slimmer in Europe's west."[12]

EU countries bordering Ukraine have allowed entry to all people fleeing war in Ukraine, regardless of whether or not they have a biometric passport,[13] and the EU has decided to grant them the right to stay, work and study in any EU member state of their choosing for an initial period of one year.[14] Some non-European and Romani people have reported ethnic discrimination at the border.

Refugees before the 2022 invasion

Before the invasion, the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the war in the Donbas, both of which are aspects of the Russo-Ukrainian War, had already resulted in at least two million refugees and internally displaced persons since 2014.[15][16] They have been referred to as Europe’s forgotten refugees by some media,[17][18] due to their cool reception in the European Union, comparatively low asylum claim success rate and media neglect.[19][20][21][22]

More than a million of the pre-2022 refugees, mainly from Donbas,[23] had gone to Russia between 2014 and 2016,[24] while the number of persons displaced within Ukraine had grown to 1.6 million people by early March 2016.[25]

Journey

Transportation

For many refugees heading westward, trains played a vital role in the journey within Ukraine and into neighboring countries. Oleksandr Kamyshin, the CEO of Ukrainian Railways, which operates the majority of train services in Ukraine, estimated that within three weeks of the start of the invasion, the network had transported 2.5 million passengers.[26] He also said at its peak, the network transported 190,000 people a day.[27]

People sitting on a tiled floor, some eating food wrapped in paper
Refugees near Polish-border train station Przemyśl Główny

To ensure trains can travel as safely as possible, the network had to constantly adapt to situations on the ground, such as if tracks are damaged by bombs or if they are no longer under Ukrainian control.[28][29] Trains have to move slower because they are often overloaded to fit as many people as possible, as well as minimising the risk of hitting damaged tracks.[29] At night, trains also turn off their lights to reduce the chance of being targeted.[30]

Railway companies in several European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland, allowed Ukrainian refugees to travel by train for free.[31][32][33][34][35][36]

Other refugees traveled by motor vehicles or on foot. In some border crossings, traffic jams of several kilometres long formed.[37] Air travel was not available in Ukraine as the country closed its airspace to civilian flights on the day of the invasion.[38]

Staging grounds and border crossings

The city of Lviv in the west of Ukraine became a key staging ground for refugees.[39] Up to 100,000 refugees were arriving in the city every day,[40] which prior to the invasion had a population of 700,000.[41] From Lviv, trains transport refugees to border crossing points such as Medyka, Poland and Uzhhorod, close to the border with Slovakia and Hungary.[42] From Medyka, most refugees continue to Przemyśl, Poland, and onward to the rest of Europe.[43]

Other major border crossings included Siret, Romania;[44] Ocnița and Palanca, Moldova;[45] Beregsurány, Hungary[46] and Vyšné Nemecké, Slovakia.[47]

Numbers

Countries bordering Ukraine *
Country Number
Poland
2,537,769
Romania
671,334
Hungary
408,652
Moldova
404,257
Russia
373,589
Slovakia
307,772
Belarus
19,096
* UNHCR figures on 7 April 2022.[1]
Other countries which have
received more than 10,000
Ukrainian refugees * **
Country Number
Czechia
300,000[48]
Germany
300,000[48]
Bulgaria
152,340[49]
Italy
87,225[50]
Turkey
58,000[51]
France
45,000[52]
Austria
42,000[53]
Lithuania
41,900[54]
Israel
35,000[55]
Estonia
28,345[56]
Portugal
28,243[57]
Sweden
27,954[58]
Spain
25,000[59]
Switzerland
24,837[60]
Denmark
24,000[61]
Netherlands
21,000[62]
Latvia
18,000[63]
Ireland
16,891[64]
Finland
16,000[65]
Croatia
15,000[66]
Norway
11,000[67]
* Government reported figures.[note 1]
** Scale is 1/2 of table to the left.

Numbers of refugees can change quickly and are often only estimates. Movements from country to country are not necessarily registered officially. Ukrainians are allowed to travel to some countries in Europe without a visa and may be allowed to stay in the country for a longer period, without special permission. Elsewhere, they have to apply for asylum. Due to the Schengen arrangements, having entered any Schengen country, refugees can travel on to other Schengen countries without any visas or border checks.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated on 27 February that in two months there would be 7.5 million internally displaced people in Ukraine, 12 million people would be in need of healthcare and the number of people fleeing the war could reach 4 million.[68] The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that the situation was Europe's fastest growing refugee crisis since the Second World War.[69] By 7 April 2022, according to the UNHCR, the number of Ukrainian refugees who had left the country approached 4.4 million people.[1]

The communications chief of the UN High Commission for Human Rights for called the speed of the exodus of refugees from Ukraine "phenomenal" and suggested that the number of internally displaced people in Ukraine is as high as the number leaving the country.[70]

A study by the UN agency International Organization for Migration in March 2022 found that 13.5% of newly displaced persons had been displaced in 2014–2015.[71] More than 60% of refugee households are traveling with children, and of the nearly 10 million people displaced within and outside Ukraine, 186,000 are nationals of a third country.[71]

Countries

Neighbouring countries

Neighbouring countries are listed in order of the number of refugees who have entered them, others are listed alphabetically.

Poland
Girl in pink coat and pink hat with train in the background
A young refugee in Przemyśl train station in Poland

As early as 15 February, Poland was expecting a possible Russian attack on Ukraine. The Polish government asked communities to prepare for up to a million refugees.[72] By 3 April 2022, almost 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees had entered Poland.[1] Poland greatly reduced the usual border formalities,[73] and said that various identity documents would be accepted.[74]

Assembly points for refugees have opened in every district of Poland.[75] Local authorities are providing free accommodation, food, and other necessary supplies.[76] Apart from that, a huge number of citizens and organisations are voluntarily offering assistance, free accommodation and other help.[77][78][79] Websites with information for refugees are also in Ukrainian.[80][81] The government is preparing legal changes that would simplify employment of Ukrainians in Poland, since currently a working visa is required as Ukrainians are from outside of the EU.[82]

President of the European Council Charles Michel visited the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing on 2 March and praised Polish efforts "to guarantee safe passages for Ukrainians, for European citizens" and those from other countries "without any discrimination."[83] In a later interview for France Inter he denounced alleged claims of racism of Ukrainian and Polish serviceman as "Russian propaganda" and part of Russia's information warfare.[84] Many observers believe that most are likely to stay in Poland and other Central European countries because "tight labor markets, affordable cities and a pre-existing diaspora have made those countries more appealing alternatives for Ukrainians, who find options slimmer in Europe's west".[85]

Ukrainian refugees in Kraków protest against the war
Romania

As of 7 April, the Romanian government had reported 671,334 Ukrainians entering Romania.[1] Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dîncu announced on 22 February 2022 that Romania could receive 500,000 refugees if necessary; the first refugees arrived two days later.[86] On 15 March, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bogdan Aurescu reported that about 80,000 remained in the country.[87]

Some ethnic Romanians are among the Ukrainian citizens who have fled to Romania.[88]

Moldova
An indoor sports hall with people on camp beds inside a running track
One of the refugee centers set up in Chișinău

Moldova was among the first countries to receive refugees from the Odessa and Vinnytsia oblasts.[89] Moldovan authorities have activated a centre of crisis management to facilitate accommodation and humanitarian relief for refugees.[90] As of 7 April 2022, 404,257 Ukrainian refugees had entered Moldova.[1] Prime Minister of Moldova Natalia Gavrilița said on 5 April that 100,000 refugees are staying in Moldova, with almost half of them being children.[91] According to Médecins Sans Frontières, the majority of refugees who do not stay continue on to Romania, Poland or other European countries.[92]

Moldova received the highest number of refugees per capita of any country[93] despite being one of Europe's poorest countries.[94] According to Middle East Eye, this has led to social tensions, and international aid was deemed crucial to help Moldovan institutions handle the influx of refugees.[93] On 22 March, the Financial Times estimated that 4% of the Moldovan population were currently refugees, and reported that the government of Moldova had requested financial aid to cope with the emergency.[95] At a conference in Berlin on 5 April, Germany and several partners, including France, Romania and the European Union, agreed to provide €659.5 million in aid to Moldova.[91]

Moldova has a critical view of Russian aggression, due to its own internal conflict with Russian-backed Transnistria.[96] The government of Moldova is providing free bus rides,[96] and Romania has assisted Moldova with moving people onwards into Romania, in order to relieve the pressure in Moldova.[97] On 12 March, Germany agreed to take 2,500 refugees who were in Moldova.[98] On 5 March, Germany announced it will take an additional 12,000 refugees.[99]

Some Ukrainian refugees have also gone to the unrecognized breakaway state of Transnistria. The state-owned newspaper Novosti Pridnestrovya reported on 4 April 2022 that a total of around 27,300 Ukrainian citizens had arrived in Transnistria, of whom 21,000 had applied for temporary residence permits.[100]

Hungary
People in an ornate building handing out cartons and cans of food with a pile of clothes in the background
Hungarian volunteers assisting refugees

From the start of the Russian invasion up to 7 April 2022, 408,652 refugees from Ukraine had arrived in Hungary.[1] As there are no border checks within the Schengen area, Hungary does not know how many people have moved to other Schengen countries. 500 people from third-party countries arrived by train in Budapest and asked the police for help, these were mostly students or migrant workers from Asia and Africa who had been living in Ukraine.[101] Prime minister Viktor Orbán confirmed on 16 March that there would be "No limit on the number of Ukrainian refugees who can stay in Hungary".

Slovakia
Refugees entering Slovakia on March 10

As of 8 March, Slovakia had taken in over 140,000 people.[102][103] By 7 April 2022, 307,772 Ukrainian refugees had entered Slovakia.[1]

Russia

According to the Russian Government figures, 373,589 refugees had gone to Russia by 7 April 2022.[1]

Belarus

According to Belarusian Government figures, 19,096 had gone to Belarus by 7 April 2022.[1]

Other European countries

EU legal framework

Ukraine has an Association Agreement with the European Union and since 2017 Ukrainians with a biometric passports have had the right to 90 days visa-free stay in the Schengen Area.[104][105] Following the invasion of Ukraine, the Commission has called upon member states to authorise the entry and stay of those without biometric passports on humanitarian grounds, and member states had done so since the refugees started to arrive across the borders.[13][106]

On 4 March, the Council of the EU unanimously agreed to implement the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time in its history, so that refugees fleeing from Ukraine do not have to go through the standard European Union asylum procedure.[107][106] Temporary protection is an emergency mechanism which gives the right to stay in a EU member state for an initial period of one year, which may be extended for up to a maximum of three years.[14] The beneficiaries enjoy harmonised rights across the EU such as residence, access to the labour market and housing, medical assistance, and access to education for children.[14] The Council did not adopt a system of quotas of displaced persons, but left it to the beneficiaries to choose their destination freely.[106]

Austria

The Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner from the ÖVP and the Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer announced that Austria was willing to take in refugees from Ukraine. All refugees are allowed to stay in the country for 90 days.[108] Of 150,000 Ukrainian refugees having arrived in Austria, about 7,000 have applied for asylum, with most proceeding to other countries.[109]

Belgium

On 25 February 2022, Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi called for Europe to coordinate the reception.[110] Two days later, Development Minister Meryame Kitir announced that three million euros would be allocated for additional humanitarian aid to Ukraine.[111]

Bulgaria

Up to 5 March 2022, roughly 25,000 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Bulgaria.[112] By 12 March, their number was nearly 70,000.[113] By 28 March, about 125,500.[114] By 7 April, 152,340 Ukrainian citizens had entered Bulgaria, 68,669 remained in the country, of whom approximately 25,000 were children.[49]

Croatia

From the start of the Russian invasion to 28 March 2022, 15,000 Ukrainian refugees entered Croatia.[66]

Cyprus

By 9 March, around 3,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Cyprus since the day after the Russian invasion, the Cypriot interior ministry reported; 19 of these had sought asylum.[115] By April their number was around 10,000. [116]

Czech Republic
Ukrainian refugees in Brno, Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is providing financial, humanitarian and other types of aid to Ukrainian refugees as well as state accommodation and education for their children. The Czech Republic had received over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees by 7 March.[117] As of 10 March the Czech Republic had received approximately 200,000 refugees.[118] As the country is close to reaching its maximum housing capacity for refugees, the government is considering the construction of refugee camps.[119][120] By 17 March, over 270,000 refugees from Ukraine had arrived in the Czech Republic,[121] the number rising to 300,000 by 23 March [48] and to 430,000 by 7 April. [122]

A network of Regional Centres for Help and Assistance to Ukraine (Krajská asistenční centra pomoci Ukrajině) was created in the regional capitals of the country to help refugees obtain registration, accommodation, health insurance or other assistance.[123][124] On 17 March, a law known as Lex Ukrajina was passed by Parliament to make it easier for refugees to obtain residence permits and access healthcare.[125]

Also on 17 March, some media, including Associated Press and BBC News, incorrectly reported that the Czech Prime Minister had said: "Czech Republic can no longer accept refugees from Ukraine ".[126][127] However, someone had mistranslated his Czech quote: "We are at the very limit of what we are capable of absorbing without any major problems (...) we must continue in the steps that will allow us to cope with more high numbers". The BBC later corrected the mistranslation.[128][129]

Denmark
A poster in Copenhagen advertising a municipal Ukranian refugee help page

By 25 March, the Danish authorities had registered around 24,000 Ukrainians as having arrived in Denmark, with roughly half being children.[61] Because of the visa-free rules for Ukrainians and the borders being largely open, with only sporadic controls, the exact number is unknown.[130][131] The authorities have projected that the number may eventually surpass 100,000 if the war is drawn out.[61] Ukrainian citizens, their close relatives and non-Ukrainians that already had refugee status in Ukraine can receive a two-year residence permit (with the possibility of extension) without having to first request asylum.[132][133]

Estonia

By 18 March 2022, 25,190 refugees, of whom over a third were children, had arrived in Estonia.[134] Of the total, 6,437 refugees were transiting, leaving 18,753 who planned to stay in Estonia.[134] By 31 March, 25,347 refugees, of whom about 40 percent were children.[135] The government received 13,289 applications for temporary protection.[135]

By 7 April, 28,345 Ukrainian refugees had entered Estonia, of whom more than 5,565 are living in temporary housing.[136]

Finland

From the start of the Russian invasion up to 30 March 2022, around 15,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Finland according to the Finnish Immigration Service.[137] The authorities have estimated that up to 100,000 are likely to arrive in the country.[137]

France

On 10 March, the Interior Ministry reported that 7,251 people had arrived in France from Ukraine, 6,967 of whom were Ukrainian nationals.[138] By 16 March, at least 17,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered France, according to French interior minister Gérald Darmanin.[139] On 24 March, Prime Minister Jean Castex visiting the new reception center for Ukrainian refugees in Nice on Thursday, and said that 30,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered France since 25 February.[140] As of 30 March, about 45,000 Ukrainians, mainly women and children, had arrived in France.[52]

A portal called "Je m'engage pour l'Ukraine" (I am committed to Ukraine) was launched with state support, aiming to coordinate help from French citizens.[141][142]

Germany
Person holds high a cardboard sign reading "food donations, follow me"
A volunteer holding a sign to guide refugees at Berlin's rail station

The first refugees from Ukraine arrived in Brandenburg on the evening of 25 February 2022, and the federal state was initially preparing for some 10,000 people. Other states pledged their help.[143] In addition, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern decided to stop the forced return of people to Ukraine.[144]

On 8 March 2022, a legal norm was enacted (Ukraine-Aufenthalts-Übergangsverordnung), which temporarily legalizes the entry and residence of Ukrainians and third-country nationals in Germany who were legally resident in Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian attack on 24 February 2022.[145][146]

Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway company, allowed refugees with a Ukrainian passport or ID card to travel free of charge on long-distance trains from Poland to Germany.[147] The company also gave out free tickets to refugees who wanted to continue to another destination; by 17 March, more than 100,000 had been issued.[148] The Association of German Transport Companies decided to also cancel charges for all short-distance travel with buses and trains for Ukrainian refugees within Germany.[149]

German media debated whether there was a difference in the portrayal of refugees from Ukraine compared to those from other countries, particularly those arriving during the 2015 European migrant crisis.[150][151][152]

According to the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community, 37,786 war refugees from Ukraine had registered in Germany by midday on 6 March 2022;[153] by March 14 the number had reached almost 147,000.[154] By 23 March, almost 239,000 refugees had entered Germany.[48] The interior ministry said that by 10 March, 300,000 private homes had offered accommodation.[155] Temporary shelters were built in places such as the former Berlin Tegel Airport and Terminal 5 of Berlin Brandenburg Airport.[148]

Greece

On 1 March, the Greek government was considering evacuating the 100,000 ethnic Greeks from Mariupol and its surrounding area.[156] Many early refugees were from Ukraine's sizeable ethnic Greek community.[115] By 4 April, over 16,700 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Greece of whom 5,117 were minors according to government officials[157]

Ireland

The Irish government announced that it expected to receive over 100,000 refugees.[158] However this was later increased to 200,000.[159] 16,891 refugees had arrived by 31 March 2022.[64]

Italy

Up to 9 March 2022, 23,872 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Italy, according to Prime Minister Mario Draghi, mainly arriving via the Italian-Slovenian border.[160] By 12 March, three days later, this number had increased to 34,851.[161] By the 7th of April, the number of Ukrainian refugees in Italy was 86,066,[162] and 87,225 by April 8th.[50]

Latvia

The Latvian Interior Ministry had prepared a plan in case of a large influx of people from Ukraine as early as 14 February.[163] On 24 February, the government approved a contingency plan to receive and accommodate approximately 10,000 refugees from Ukraine.[164] Several non-governmental organizations, municipalities, schools and other institutions also pledged to provide accommodation.[165] On 27 February, around 20 volunteer professional drivers departed to Lublin with supply donations, bringing Ukrainian refugees on their way back.[166]

The first refugees began arriving on 26 February[165] and by 2 March Latvia had taken in more than 1,000 Ukrainian refugees.[167] On 2 March, an official designated portal in Latvian, Ukrainian, English and Russian called "Ukraine to Latvia" was launched[168] and on 7 March, with 3,000 to 4,000 Ukrainian refugees having arrived in Latvia, a Ukrainian refugee help center was opened in the Riga Congress Hall [lv].[169] By 9 March, humanitarian visas had been issued to 67 Ukrainian citizens.[170] To deal with the increasingly large numbers of refugees, a second Ukrainian refugee help center is scheduled to be opened in the former building of Riga Technical University on 14 March.[171] As of 20 March 2022, 6,253 Ukrainian refugees are registered in Riga.[172] From the start of the Russian invasion up to 23 March 2022, 12,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Latvia.[173] From the start of the Russian invasion up to 5 April 2022, 18,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Latvia.[174]

Lithuania

From the start of the Russian invasion up to 7 April 2022, almost 41,900 Ukrainian refugees had entered Lithuania, including 17,500 children, of whom almost 4,700 were under the age of six.[175] Most have applied for temporary residence.[176]

Luxembourg

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg welcomed the European regulations and has set up a "first reception centre" in Luxembourg City.[177]

Netherlands
Ships at the Java-eiland.

Prior to the invasion, Ukrainians in search of safety could already fly to the Netherlands and stay for three months. During this time, they had to find their own accommodation as asylum centers were already "overcrowded".[178] State Secretary for Migration Eric van der Burg said that the principle had always been emphasized that refugees should be received in their own region, if possible but that "now Europe is the region." As of 27 February, fewer than 50 refugees had arrived in the Netherlands from Ukraine.[179]

However, by 8 March, 325 Ukrainian refugees had arrived in Rotterdam alone. A local official said that Rotterdam would receive more Ukrainians than the thousand who had been initially expected, "our people are working hard to find places, and they won't stop at a thousand."[180]

The Dutch cabinet wanted to ensure 50,000 places for refugees from Ukraine according to a letter from Justice and Security Minister Yesilgöz, "the safety regions will coordinate the implementation, together with municipalities, of reception locations for at least 1,000 refugees from Ukraine per region within two weeks". Then, in a third phase, the same number would again be admitted.[181]

By 16 March, the municipality of Amsterdam had acquired ships harboured in the Java-eiland to lodge 300 refugees as a way to extend their existing capability.[182]

Portugal

As of 5 of April 2022, Portugal had received 28,243 refugees from Ukraine.[57] The majority of the refugees are Ukrainian citizens, while 5% are non-Ukrainian nationals who were living in Ukraine at the time of the invasion.[183] Around 60% of refugees are women.[184] As of 5 of April 2022, minors made up 10,051 of the refugees, around 35% of the total number.[57][185] As of 6 of April 2022, 350 minors arrived without a parent or legal guardian. In some cases, these minors arrived with close relatives,[186] but 16 of them arrived unaccompanied.[186] As of 29 of March 2022, 1800 Portuguese families had offered to provide foster care. The Portuguese authorities expect to find next of kin for the majority, and only a tiny number will need permanent adoption.[187]

Before the Russian invasion in 2022, Portugal already had 27,200 Ukrainian immigrants.[188] As a result of the crisis, the Ukrainian immigrant community has become the second-largest in Portugal, almost doubling to over 52,000 in the month of March.[185] That community helped in organizing the transport of refugees.[189]

The Portuguese Government strategy relies on a number of specific microsites to foster a swifter integration of the refugees.[190][191][192] One site centralizes information for both refugees from Ukraine in need of help and for individuals and organizations offering help. The site is trilingual (Portuguese, Ukrainian and English) and links to other more specific microsites for formal legalization of refugees,[190] education[191] and centralizing jobs offers for refugees with 27,151 listings.[192] As of 6 of April 2022, 359 refugees had been hired, 4,261 registered as looking for work and 2,880 enrolled in Portuguese classes.[193] By 6 April 2022, 2,115 Ukrainian refugee children had been enrolled in Portuguese Public Schools, up from over 600 on 22 March.[194][195] As of 6 of April 2022, Portuguese Social Security had processed 1,412 requests from Ukrainian Refugees.[196] The Portuguese government reiterated that it had set no limit for Ukrainian refugees.[197][198]

Serbia

As of 11 March 2022, there are a little over 1,000 Ukrainian refugees in Serbia according to the Commissariat for Refugees and Migration of the Republic of Serbia (KIRS).[199]

Slovenia

From the start of the Russian invasion up to 23 March 2022, more than 3,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Slovenia.[200] From the start of the Russian invasion up to 28 March 2022, more than 7,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Slovenia.[66]

Spain

Spain announced that 100,000 Ukrainian citizens already living in the country would be fully legalized.[201] This would allow them to "work legally, so that they can access education, health and social policies" said Prime Minister Sánchez.[201] Several other authorities from local to central administration stated the willingness to accept more Ukrainian refugees.[202][203] On March 31 2022, Prime Minister Sánchez announced that 30,000 Ukrainian refugees had officially be granted the temporary protection status, but expected that number to increase to 70,000 in the next days.[204] Many of the refugees were staying with relatives or friends and had not yet notified the authorities.[59]

Sweden

As of 11 March, the authorities had registered 5,200 Ukrainians as having entered Sweden since Russia's invasion. Because of the EU-wide 90 days visa-free rules for Ukrainians and no rules on registration at the border in Sweden, it has been estimated that the true number is considerable higher, probably around 4,000 per day. It has been projected that Sweden most likely will receive around 76,000 refugees from Ukraine in the first half of 2022.[205][206]

Switzerland

It was already possible for a Ukrainian citizen (with a biometric passport) to enter Switzerland without a visa, the maximum stay was three months. Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter announced on 28 February that in future refugees without passports would be welcome too and residence would no longer be time limited. The federal government and the cantons would provide accommodation for 9,000 refugees.[207] On 11 March, the head of the Justice minister Karin Keller-Sutter said that 2,100 refugees have already been registered in Switzerland and up to 60,000 refugees could arrive in total.[208] As of April 5, 24,837 refugees had been registered and 18,149 of them had already received S permits.[209][60]

United Kingdom

Britain had issued about 1,000 visas by 13 March and was criticised for placing too many bureaucratic obstacles to entry to the UK for refugees by both international and UK sources, and for only granting admission to refugees who already had family in the UK.[210][211][115] On 4 March the United Kingdom announced that British nationals and Ukrainian residents of the UK would be allowed to bring in members of their extended family from Ukraine.[212] [213] Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that the country could take in 200,000 Ukrainian refugees.[212] On 7 March 2022, French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that many Ukrainian refugees had been turned away by British officials in Calais and told to obtain visas at UK consulates in Paris or Brussels.[214][215] Emmanuel Macron also criticised the United Kingdom for not helping Ukrainian refugees.[216]

On 12 March, Michael Gove announced a new scheme whereby Britons who offered their home to Ukrainian refugees would receive £350 a month.[217][218]

On 28 March the Home Office announced it had issued 21,600 visas under the Ukraine Family Scheme, under which refugees could join close family members already resident in the UK. The government was criticised however for the slow and bureaucratic procedures in the "Home for Ukraine" scheme previously announced by Gove. The heads of the Refugee Council, the British Red Cross, Save the Children and Oxfam made a statement warning that the system was “causing great distress to already traumatised Ukrainians”.[219] 2,500 applications for visas under this scheme had been approved by 30 March.[220]

Other countries

Australia

In the wake of the Russian invasion in February, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that visa applications from Ukrainian nationals would be sent "top the top of the pile".[221] Several Australians have opened their homes to host Ukrainian refugees, with more than 4,000 visas having been processed.[222] On 20 March 2022, the federal government announced that Ukrainians who arrive or are already in the country will be allowed temporary humanitarian visas, which allows them to work, study, and access healthcare.[223] By 20 March, about 5,000 Ukrainians have been granted visas to travel to Australia, and 750 have arrived.[223]

Brazil

On 3 March, Brazil announced that Ukrainians would receive humanitarian visas as refugees, with a period of 5 months to apply for asylum.[224] The country has around 600,000 people of Ukrainian descent, about 38,000 of whom live in Prudentópolis, according to the Ukrainian-Brazilian Central Representation.[225] From 3 February until 19 March, Brazil had received almost 900 Ukrainian refugees according to Brazilian police.[226] On 22 March, the country's police reported that 1,100 Ukrainians had landed in Brazil up to that date.[227]

Canada

On 3 March, the Government of Canada announced a plan to permanently reunify Canadian citizens with their Ukrainian family members.[228] Immigration Canada stated the country will allow an unlimited number of Ukrainians to apply to stay in Canada on a temporary basis and provide work permits for Ukrainians that have either been accepted under these migration schemes or cannot safely return to Ukraine whilst currently in Canada.[229][228] On 17 March the Government launched the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET),[230] which gives Ukrainians and their families a visitor visa to come to Canada temporarily, and allows them to work and study there for up to three years. There is no limit to the number of people who can apply, and applicants who are overseas need to apply online and provide their biometrics (fingerprints and a photo).[230][231] The online application takes 14 days to process.[232]

Canada is home to nearly 1.4 million Ukrainian-Canadians, making Canada the second-largest population of the Ukrainian diaspora, after Russia.[233] Immigration Canada reported that 7,400 Ukrainians had arrived to Canada between January 1 and March 10, 2022. On March 10, 2022, Immigration Canada further reported that 7,100 additional applications had been received, and were being processed.[234] As Immigration Canada continues to receive applications, the government of Canada announced it is investing an additional $117 million to expedite the implementation of new immigration programs, for Ukrainian refugees.[235]

Egypt

When the conflict broke out, there were an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 Ukrainian tourists, now refugees, in Egypt.[236][237] The Egyptian government assisted them to leave Egypt, with free flights to Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary - as of March 4, almost 4,000 had left the country.[237]

Israel
A Ukrainian family arrives in Israel on March 6, 2022

As of March 23, more than 15,200 Ukrainian refugees arrived in Israel, of whom only 4,200 would have otherwise been eligible for citizenship[55]

In addition, another 20,000 Ukrainians who were already inside Israel when the conflict broke out (on tourist visas or illegally in the country) were also regarded as refugees and given permission to stay.[238]

Japan

In a rare move Japan has opened its borders to refugees from Ukraine fleeing the current war on March 15.[239] As of March 12th, it was confirmed by Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno that 29 Ukrainians have entered Japan to sought shelter with friends or relatives who are already in Hiroshima Japan.[240]

Philippines

The Philippines' Department of Justice stated that the country would be willing to accept Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. President Rodrigo Duterte on 28 February 2022 institutionalized the Philippines policy to protect refugees, stateless persons and asylum seekers under international law.[241]

Sri Lanka

Early in the conflict the government announced that it would grant and extend free visas by two months for over 15,000 Russians and Ukrainians who are stranded in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing conflict.[242][243][244]

Turkey

On 3 March, Turkey announced that 20,000 Ukrainian refugees had entered Turkey since the Russian invasion. Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that Turkey was glad to welcome them.[245] By March 8, official figures put the number of Ukrainian refugees in the country at 20,550, of whom 551 were of Crimean Tatar or Meskhetian Turk origin.[246][247] The Ukrainian winner of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, Jamala, who is of Crimean Tatar origin, also sought refuge in Turkey.[248] By 23 March, the number of Ukrainian refugees had risen above 58,000.[249][51]

United States
US President Joe Biden greets Ukrainian refugees while on a March visit to Poland

The United States announced on March 4 that Ukrainians would be provided Temporary Protected Status.[250] This was estimated to impact 30,000 Ukrainian nationals in the United States.[251][252] On March 24, 2022, US President Biden announced that up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees would be accepted into the United States; especially, focusing on those with family already in the country.[253]

International aid

Two young people in hi-viz jackets hand out bottled drinks as other people pass by with luggage
Volunteers assist refugees in a Polish train station

Organizations such as UNICEF, the United Nations Refugee Agency, International Rescue Committee, United Ukrainian American Relief Committee and others began accepting monetary donations for helping refugees and those affected by the crisis. Others such as The Kyiv Independent began GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for specific causes or calls for physical items to be donated by an individual.[254][255]

Issues

Human trafficking concerns

The Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) and aid organizations such as the Human Trafficking Foundation and World Vision warned that refugees are at risk of falling into human trafficking, exploitation and violence, including sexual violence.[256][257][155]

Concerns about human trafficking and sexual violence have been realized during the refugee crisis, with spotty documentation and identification, language barriers and the large numbers of refugees creating opportunities for traffickers. A Ukrainian refugee who stayed to help at a border location told reporters of calling the police on three men holding transportation signs, who were later arrested for looking for women for the sex trade. Another refugee spoke of men who attempted to coerce her and her children into a van full of only women, and refused to show her proof of identification and attempted to intimidate her from other travel options.[258] At least one man was arrested on suspicions of raping a 19-year-old refugee after promising her work and shelter.[259]

Polish, Romanian and Slovakian law enforcement deployed patrols to border crossings to look out for criminal activity.[260][261] Both men and women have attempted to procure female refugees at stations.[262] The Polish government passed an amendment which raised the minimum sentence of human trafficking from 3 years to 10 years, and the sex trafficking of children from 10 years to 25 years.[261] In Berlin, German authorities advised refugees not to accept help directly from people at train stations, and for Germans to register their offers of help on coordinated websites rather than approaching refugees directly.[155] German police also increased the number of uniformed and undercover police officers at train stations, and asked volunteers to report suspicious activity at train stations.[155]

Unaccompanied minors

UNICEF and UNHCR raised concerns about minors who were traveling unaccompanied, and urged neighbouring countries to identify and register the children before sending them to relocation services. They also highlighted a number of institutional care and boarding schools in Ukraine which held about 10,000 students that have been caught up in the invasion. In some countries, accommodation has been created specifically for orphaned children in foster homes or orphanages.[263][264] UNICEF set up "Blue Dot" safe spaces in neighboring countries, which included support for unaccompanied children.[265]

Racial discrimination

Treatment at the borders

A few days into the crisis, claims of discrimination by border guards and other authorities against non-European and Romani people were reported by some of those fleeing Ukraine. There were reports of people being forced to move to the backs of queues, deboarded from buses, prevented from crossing the border, and, in one report, being beaten by guards.[266][267][268][269][270][271] Some Indians in Ukraine said they were targeted after India chose to abstain from condemning Russia at the UN.[272][273] Some Indians and Africans were reportedly harassed and threatened by Polish nationalists after crossing into Poland.[274] On 1 March, Filippo Grandi, of UNHCR, acknowledged that discrimination against non-Ukrainians had occurred at some borders.[275]

The African Union called attempts to prevent Africans from crossing the border racist and not in line with international law.[276][277] On March 2, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Africans "need to have equal opportunity" to leave the country and he also stated that "Ukraine's government spares no effort to solve the problem."[278][279] On 3 March, Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and told him that he had instructed Russian soldiers to "ensure the safe exit of Indian nationals from the armed conflict zone."[280]

In 2020, Ukraine had over 76,000 foreign students, with India and Africa each making up one quarter of the total number. With their affordable tuition, straightforward visa requirements, and the possibility of permanent residency, Ukrainian universities were seen as an entry point to the European job market.[281] Afghans constitute the largest immigrant group in the country, having arrived as early as the 1980s.[282] Andriy Demchenko, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian border guard, said that allegations of segregation at the borders are untrue.[269] On 28 February, Krzysztof Szczerski, Poland's ambassador to the UN, reported that the refugees who were admitted from Ukraine on that day alone represented 125 countries.[283] Since then, EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson has stated that its borders are open to people in Ukraine from third countries who want to travel to their home countries, and individuals in need of protection can apply for asylum.[284][285]

On 2 March, the German embassy[286] as well as the EU delegation in Kenya called for verification of the postings on Kenyan social media, cautioning that unsubstantiated claims had been spread.[287][288] According to German TV station Tagesschau, such allegations are grave because they are in line with the narrative of Vladimir Putin, who has justified his attack on Ukraine with, the need to free the country from "Nazis".[289] On Polish social media, the amount of both pro-Russian and racist content saw an increase following the invasion, and fake news about supposed crimes which were committed by, or against refugees were partially spread by pro-Kremlin accounts.[290][291][292][293]

By politicians and mainstream media

Differences between the policies, border treatment and media portrayal of Ukrainian refugees compared to other groups, in particular those during the 2015 European migrant crisis, have been criticised. Specific issues include alleged harsher treatment and more restrictions placed on Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi and other refugees, in contrast to the relatively liberal and welcoming response to native Ukrainian refugees.[294][295][296] Portrayal by some Western media and politicians of Ukraine as a country "where you wouldn't expect that" [war] and its people as "white", "Christian", "relatively civilized", "relatively European", "like us", and having "blue eyes and blonde hair" has also been criticised.[297][298] Kenan Malik noted that there is an irony in such Western reporting, highlighting a long history of bigotry towards Slavs, of viewing them as primitive, being "a born slave", and of hostile attitudes towards Slavs by white supremacists historically.[299]

Professor Serena Parekh suggested that besides racism there are other factors explaining the different treatment in earlier crises:[300] including that current Ukrainian refugees are almost entirely women, children and elderly people.[301] Ukrainians had a legal right to enter the European Union and stay for up to 90 days; therefore, there wasn't a question of whether or not they should be allowed to enter.[300] The welcoming approach witnessed in Central and Eastern Europe can be further explained by its geographical and language proximity to Ukraine, large Ukrainian diasporas, shared history and traumatizing experiences of Soviet aggression and occupation.[300]

Pets and zoo animals

Domestic animals and animals in zoos were caught up in the invasion, with many border crossing regulations of microchipping and vaccinations in effect. Pets entering the EU from a third country would normally have to include an identification document or pet passport that includes information on anti-rabies vaccinations and any other preventative health measures. Additionally, dogs, cats and ferrets must undergo a rabies antibody titration test.[302] Many EU authorities and governments of neighboring countries have since removed or relaxed the requirements needed for pets to cross the borders with their owners.[303][304]

While some delayed leaving Ukraine in order to leave with their pets, others were forced to give their pets to shelters or leave them with relatives who were staying behind.[305] Some international organizations, such as the International Fund for Animal Welfare and PETA and independent organizations or sanctuaries, have offered support in the form of food, veterinary supplies for the animals and wages along with housing for the caretakers.[306] Others who work with animal shelters or the Kyiv Zoo have refused to evacuate, when it would be impossible to safely evacuate all the animals due to their numbers or size.[307][308] The Feldman Ecopark Zoo (outside Kharkiv) reported the death and wounding of some of their animals due to damage to their facilities.[309] A lion and a wolf were evacuated from a zoo in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine to a zoo in Rădăuți, Romania.[310]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Due to free movement without border checks within the Schengen Area, refugees might get counted more than once. For example, a refugee might enter Poland from Ukraine and be recorded as having entered Poland, then move on to Germany and be recorded again. Thus the majority of those here will have left Ukraine by one of the countries bordering Ukraine listed in the table on the left.

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External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - 2022 Ukrainian refugee crisis