B Explanatory memorandum
by Mr Pierre-Alain Fridez, rapporteur
1. A page in European history
was turned on 24 February 2022, when the Russian Federation attacked
its neighbour Ukraine, violating the latter's sovereignty and territorial
integrity, the United Nations Charter and infringing Article 3 of
the Statute of the Council of Europe.
2. The Russian Federation's aggression against Ukraine was strongly
and immediately condemned by the Council of Europe, as well as by
States and other international organisations such as the United
Nations, the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation
in Europe (OSCE), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) and the Interparliamentary Union.
Accordingly, the day after the attack, on 25 February 2022,
the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to suspend,
with immediate effect, the Russian Federation's right of representation
in the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly. Following
the Committee of Ministers' request of 10 March to consult the Assembly
on a possible future use of Article 8 of the Statute of the Council
of Europe, the Assembly held an extraordinary session on 14 and
15 March 2022, following which it unanimously adopted Opinion 300 (2022)
considering that the Russian Federation could no longer
be a member State of the Organisation. Furthermore, the Assembly
considered that the Committee of Ministers should ask the Russian Federation
to withdraw immediately from the Council of Europe. At an extraordinary
meeting on held 16 March 2022, the Committee of Ministers decided,
under the procedure initiated under Article 8 of the Statute, that
the Russian Federation ceased to be a member of the Council of Europe
as of that day, 26 years after its accession.
4. To date, more than 14 million people have been put on the
roads to flee the Russian-led hostilities, the severity of which
will have disastrous humanitarian and other consequences in the
very long term. The military offensive has deliberately targeted
civilians, who have been caught in sieges, been subjected to bombing
and air strikes attacks on densely populated cities. All these people
are suffering from the terrible consequences of the fighting, bombing
and encirclement: anguish, traumatic stress, loss of loved ones,
physical and psychological injuries, deprivation of all kinds, violence,
5. The city of Mariupol has become a symbol of the martyrdom
suffered by the Ukrainian people. The discovery of mass graves and
abuses, such as summary executions and rapes, committed by Russian
forces in the towns of Butcha, Irpin, Borodyanka and Andriivka has
given this totally unjustified war a new dimension.
6. Before our eyes, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine has
seriously deteriorated over the weeks, with a high number of civilian
casualties, including women and children, and an increasing number
of internally displaced persons and refugees requiring humanitarian
7. By mid-May, over six million refugees have fled Ukraine with
over three million arriving in Poland alone, an incredible figure.
Over eight million more people have been internally displaced. This
is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since the Second
World War, as the United Nations Security Council has stressed. These
millions of people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.
8. The States bordering Ukraine, notably Poland, the Slovak Republic
and Romania, which I visited, have shown exemplary solidarity in
organising the arrival, settlement or transit of refugees forced
to flee their country. The European Union's decision to implement
Directive 2001/55/EC (Temporary Protection Directive) for the first
time since its adoption is momentous, but without a solidarity mechanism,
these population movements could quickly turn into a humanitarian
disaster, especially in the Republic of Moldova, which has reached
its reception limits and where the sound of bombs falling in Ukraine
is echoing. Moreover, the risks of trafficking, exploitation and
abuse have already become evident in the case of completely destitute
women and children.
9. For those who have not left the territory of Ukraine but are
forced into exile, the risk of food insecurity cannot be minimised.
This insecurity may also become a factor in further forced displacement.
That said, the reason people are being forced to leave their homes
and lives they had before 24 February 2022 is because of the Russian
aggression, the shelling of civilian targets and atrocities committed
by Russian forces.
Any forced displacement, particularly to the Russian Federation
or Belarus, is a violation of international humanitarian lawNote
as is the bombing and
shelling of cities in western Ukraine, which have also received
millions of displaced persons, threatening the infrastructure of
cities and regions that are not equipped for the population growth
they have experienced since the war began.
11. This report provides an overview of the humanitarian consequences
for displaced persons and refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine
in order to propose solutions, which have added value within the
framework of existing Council of Europe instruments, on how to respond
in the long term to the full range of challenges caused by the Russian
Federation’s aggression against its Ukrainian neighbour and its
These proposals are based in particular on fact-finding visits
I made to Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine in April
and May 2022 (see the programmes of these visits, AS/Mig/Inf(2022)03
which enabled me to assess the situation with my own eyes. I wish
to express my sincere thanks to the Ukrainian and Romanian parliamentary
delegations, as well as to the Council of Europe Office in Warsaw
and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office in
the Slovak Republic for their assistance in organising these visits.
I would also like to thank the Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović,
the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Migration
and Refugees, Leyla Kayacik, as well as Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos,
Scientific Advisor to the Director of the European Union Agency
for Fundamental Rights (FRA), for the exchanges of views that the
Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons held with
them last March and April.
13. I would have preferred not to have had the experience of a
country in Europe, in the 21st century, being attacked precisely
because it is committed to the values of democracy and human rights,
on pretexts as perverse as they are deadly.
2 Figures and words
who fled the fighting
As of mid-May 2022, the number
of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine stood at 8 029 000Note
or 18.2% of the population,
a figure that has increased by 24% since 17 April. According to
IOM estimates, 22% of these IDPs indicate that at least one member
of their family is a child aged between 1 and 5 years, while 55%
indicate that they live with at least one person aged over 60 years.
23% of IDPs report that at least one member of their family has
a disability and 31% report that at least one member of their family
has a chronic illness.
Nearly 66% of the IDPs surveyed indicate that they need financial
assistance as a priority, 23% indicate a need for medicine and medical
care and 17% for food.Note
At the same time, the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that over 6.5 million Ukrainians had
fled the country and over 2 million had returned to Ukraine.Note
As UNHCR points out, this
figure reflects cross-border movements and does not necessarily
indicate a sustainable return. So far, the largest influx of refugees
from Ukraine to neighbouring countries has been in March, with 3 381 926
people leaving the territory (compared to 1 501 654 in April). Since
the start of the war, Poland has received over 3 million refugees,
Romania almost 1 million, over 400 000 have arrived in the Republic
of Moldova and the Slovak Republic respectively, and over 600 000
17. These few staggering figures, showing that more than a quarter
of the Ukrainian population has had to leave their homes, give the
measure of the need for humanitarian aid, not only in Ukraine but
also in the border countries, which have suffered a significant
impact with the mass arrival, mainly of women and young children, whether
on foot, by car or by train. Fortunately, the almost immediate mobilisation
of all actors, including those of the international community, meant
that urgent needs were met as soon as the first people reached the borders.
While chaos reigned in the first few days, efforts were quickly
made to welcome the Ukrainian refugees in a dignified and lawful
18. If the most urgent needs had
to be addressed on 24 February, three months later it is necessary
to talk about long-term needs, not only during the war, but also
afterwards, when Ukraine will have to be rebuilt. With the fall
of Mariupol, it is clear that the Russian army has no other objective
than the total annihilation of Ukraine. We can therefore anticipate
the colossal figures that will follow. We are talking about US$599 billion needed for reconstruction.
At the same time, the commitment of the international community
is unprecedented, with more than US$9 billion in aid to Ukraine
already on the table.
The United Nations and its partners, who have been involved
in providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable communities in
eastern Ukraine for more than eight years, have increased their
level of support to meet the massive and urgent needs for relief
and protection of civilians across the country. As a result, a total of
US$44.4 million has been allocated in 24 oblasts
helping more than 2.1 million people in need, including through
the protection of civilian infrastructure in accordance with international
humanitarian and human rights law, and the provision of basic services
in conflict-affected areas.Note
20. These figures, which are constantly evolving, are still incomparable
to the needs, since of the 12 million tons of humanitarian aid needed
every day, only 3 million tons arrive in Ukraine.
A donors' conference was held on 5 May in Warsaw, hopefully
marking the start of a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine, as called for
by President Volodymyr Zelensky and the President of the European
Council, Charles Michel. On this occasion, President Zelensky launched
the UNITED24 operation, a one-stop shop for charitable donations
The funds will be transferred to
official accounts of the National Bank of Ukraine and allocated
by the designated ministries to cover the most urgent needs in defence
and mine clearance, medical aid and reconstruction. As he stressed,
the funding for Ukraine is clearly an investment in the security
of the whole region. As a result of the Warsaw conference, more
than US$6.5 billion in humanitarian aid from public and private
funds was pledged to Ukraine.Note
22. The European Union, united in its support for Ukraine, has
intensified its political, humanitarian, financial and military
support to Ukraine since the beginning of the war. By mid-May, it
had mobilised €4.1 billion in macro-financial aid (assistance, budget
support, emergency aid, crisis response aid and humanitarian aid),
in addition to €1.5 billion in military expenditure. This is unprecedented.
In its Strategic Reconstruction Plan, unveiled on 18 May,
the European Commission proposes to provide an additional nine billion
to help rebuild Ukraine, as well as the creation of a 'Rebuild Ukraine
Platform' which, in the medium to long term, and with the support
of the G7, G20, third countries and international financial institutions,
and even cities, could coordinate assistance for the reconstruction
of the country once the war is over.Note
24. It is difficult not to feel dizzy when reading these figures,
but the unprecedented scale of a war being waged in Europe emphasises
the need for a united and supportive Europe.
With its specific mandate, the Council of Europe Development
Bank (CEB), based on a partial agreement of the Council of Europe,
also has a fundamental role to play, as rightly pointed out in the
report entitled “Consequences of the Russian Federation's continued
aggression against Ukraine: role and response of the Council of
main UN agencies
26. The response of the United
Nations (UN) and its agencies to Russia's aggression against Ukraine
was immediate, and the UNHCR and the IOM stepped up their presence
on the ground to provide assistance to displaced persons and refugees,
to Ukraine and to host countries. The two agencies play a key role
and are working together, as I observed at the Slovak-Ukrainian
border in Vyšné Nemecké, where their white and blue tents were set
up side by side.
UNHCR's activities in Ukraine focus on the needs of displaced
people. UNHCR co-ordinates the Protection and Shelter Clusters.
The UN agency is also involved in financial and material support
to the population. For example, it has set up reception centres
for displaced persons and provides them with significant financial
assistance, in particular by allowing them to obtain a bank card
(“cash assistance”, which has benefited nearly 700 000 displaced
persons in eleven regions).Note
28. Inside Ukraine, many trapped people are unable to meet their
basic needs for food, water and medicine. The delivery of life-saving
aid remains difficult, with a lack of safe humanitarian access.
UNHCR and other international agencies continue to work to reach
hard-hit areas to deliver this life-saving assistance through inter-agency
29. In the border countries, UNHCR plays an important role in
the prevention of human trafficking, abuse and exploitation. For
example, child and family protection support centres (Blue Dots)
have been set up in cooperation with UNICEF. These Blue Dots bring
together a minimum package of protection, social and counselling
services for children and families. They aim to improve accessibility
and standardisation of services provided by different partners,
as well as predictability through a recognisable blue dot label.
30. UNHCR does not limit itself to providing direct assistance
to refugees and displaced persons, as it is also engaged in awareness-raising
activities with border authorities on gender-based violence and
child protection. In collaboration with other agencies, such as
the IOM, UNHCR provides psychological support, ensures the protection
of the most vulnerable people, notably by raising awareness of the
risk of human trafficking.
31. In general, UNHCR has deployed its co-ordination mechanisms
to facilitate the work of the different actors on the ground, to
improve the delivery of assistance to refugees and to ensure their
32. Its field experience is crucial to complement the emergency
assistance provided by the Ukrainian authorities, the border States
and the many other actors, including those from civil society.
For its part, IOM's priority is the short, medium and long
term safety and protection of all people affected by the war.Note
Its interventions are
in line with and complement the plans launched in April by the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
“Ukraine Flash Appeal” and the UNHCR with the “Regional Refugee
It is responsible, in
particular, for collecting, analysing and disseminating data which
is an essential element in enabling the Organisation, but also the
governments of neighbouring countries, to better understand the
needs of people fleeing the war and to act as quickly as possible.
IOM is an active member of the UN Country Team and the UN
Humanitarian Country Team and participates actively in several working
groups at regional and national levels (Information Management Working
Group, Cash Working Group, Protection Working Group, Protection
against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Working Group, Anti-Trafficking
Task Force) to intervene in several areas, including financial assistance,
prevention of human trafficking, health, and provision of basic
Thus, IOM plays a key role in co-ordinating the emergency
response in support of Ukraine, as I have seen in the Slovak Republic
(see para 53).Note
the important functions of IOM is to inform border crossers at the
points of entry into the Slovak Republic (Vyšné Nemecké, Ubľa),
at large-scale centres, such as those in Michalovce and Humenne,
and at the Hot Spot
about the services available to foreigners in the Slovak Republic
within the framework of the Migration Information Centre (legal
advice and advice on social issues, on available language courses,
cultural orientation, etc.). It provides direct humanitarian aid
according to the needs on the ground (blankets, hygiene kits, disinfection,
breastfeeding centre, defibrillator), contributes to the protection
and prevention of trafficking in human beings by providing transport
for vulnerable persons, contributes to the accommodation of refugees,
in particular through contracts with Airbnb, and participates in the
direct financial support of refugees through cash-based interventions.
As part of its mandate, IOM is also active in mental health and
psychological support for migrants, emergency-affected communities
and host communities. IOM's role in assisting voluntary return and
reintegration in the country of origin is also important. Finally,
IOM manages the Slovak Republic's humanitarian hub for Ukraine (see
36. The European Union took swift
and decisive action to condemn the Russian Federation, including through
a series of sanctions packages, and its help provided to Ukraine
and Ukrainians. A series of decisions were taken and initiatives
launched to help people fleeing the war and seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
37. In particular, the activation of the EU Temporary Protection
Directive (European Council Decision of 4 March 2022) was both a
crucial and welcome step, as it provided a clear legal framework
for receiving Ukrainians in EU countries.
In addition, the “Solidarity Platform”, the “operational”
arm of the EU and its member States' co-ordination of humanitarian
assistance initiatives, undoubtedly plays a major role in the provision
of humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.Note
It is the main co-ordination and
operational mechanism of the European Union. Its role is to examine
the needs identified in the member States and to coordinate operational
follow-up in response. It co-ordinates the transfer of persons from
the Republic of Moldova to EU countries. So far, 7 EU countries
and Norway have pledged to receive 14 500 persons from the Republic
of Moldova. The first transfers started on 19 March. Finally, the
platform is developing guidelines and standard operating procedures to
facilitate these transfers, with particular attention paid to the
situation of children, especially unaccompanied minors.
Therefore, already on 28 March, the European Commission, in
co-ordination with the French EU Presidency, presented a 10-point
plan for enhanced European co-ordination on the reception of people
fleeing the war against Ukraine.Note
The roadmap is being developed but
already on 11 May, the Solidarity Platform committed itself to monitor
and implement a Common Plan against Trafficking in Human Beings
to address the risks of trafficking in human beings and to support
potential victims among those fleeing the war in Ukraine (see para
Finally, the European Commission is co-ordinating the largest
operation of the European Union's Civil Protection Mechanism.Note
addition to providing financial assistance for humanitarian projects
(food, water, shelter, education) in Ukraine and neighbouring countries,
it also provides medical equipment, notably through the RescEU mechanism,
and assists in the evacuation of chronically ill people to hospitals
The various EU agencies are also involved. The Fundamental
Rights Agency, FRA, visited in early March the four EU countries
that share a border with Ukraine: Hungary, Poland, Romania and the
Slovak Republic. This mission resulted in the first FRA Bulletin
“The War in Ukraine – fundamental rights implications within the
EU”, which focuses on the situation of people who have fled Ukraine
to these four countries.Note
Europol has deployed operational teams in Ukraine's neighbouring
which support national authorities
with security checks and investigations at the EU's external borders
in order to combat the terrorist threat and criminals attempting
to enter the EU through the flow of Ukrainian refugees.Note
As for the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training
(CEPOL), the agency has organised, since the beginning of March,
activities to raise awareness of the challenges and risks generated
by the current Ukrainian refugee crisis and to share good practices
in border management for people working in the field of border security
In order to support member States in managing people fleeing
Ukraine to neighbouring countries, Frontex (the European Border
and Coast Guard Agency), as of 12 May 2022, had deployed 527 officers
at the EU-Ukraine borders.Note
It has also organised
humanitarian flights for non-Ukrainian citizens to reach their home countries.Note
Finally, the recently established EU Asylum Agency (EUAA)
has set up the Ukraine Emergency Response Board to better co-ordinate
support to member States with asylum and reception needs and to
assist them in implementing the EU Temporary Protection Directive.
In addition, training is being offered in each neighbouring country
to enable the various actors to strengthen their capacity to manage
as well as practical
recommendations concerning in particular the emergency reception
of displaced persons in Ukraine.Note
Council of Europe
Our Organisation took a historic
decision to suspend the Russian Federation the day after its aggression against
Ukraine and to exclude it on 16 March, following Opinion 300 (2022)
adopted unanimously by our Assembly.Note
47. Through the rapid reaction of its statutory bodies, the Council
of Europe has demonstrated its relevance and added value in supporting
one of its member States, Ukraine, in the face of an atrocious and
totally unjustified war.
The Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, has been
actively involved since the beginning of the war in Ukraine in addressing
its human rights consequences.Note
Her activities have resulted in statements and
reports relating to the situation of refugees and displaced persons.Note
The Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and
Refugees, Leyla Kayacik, engaged in the implementation of the “Council
of Europe Action Plan on the Protection of Vulnerable Persons in
the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025)”,Note
visited Ukraine’s neighbouring countries
as a follow-up to the extraordinary meeting of the Council of Europe
Network of Focal Points on Migration on the situation of persons
Her forthcoming recommendations are
awaited with great interest.
50. I have already mentioned the important contribution of the
CEB in responding to the challenges caused by the humanitarian crisis
(para 25), to which should be added that of the Congress of Local
and Regional Authorities, the Organisation's monitoring mechanisms
which reacted rapidly within their respective mandates, and more
generally the Priority Adjustments to the Council of Europe Action
Plan for Ukraine 2018-2022 adopted at the Turin Ministerial Conference
held on 20 May.
At this point, I would like to stress that the current situation
has been an opportunity for all Council of Europe bodies to show
that they can and do work together. It is indeed through concerted
and complementary actions that the best results are achieved, and
the outcome of the Turin Conference are there to prove it.Note
observations in the field
The first thing that stands
out is that the humanitarian needs far outweigh the considerable
quantity of goods stored in the two warehouses I visited in Košice
(Slovak Republic) and Chernivtsi (Ukraine).Note
53. The 5 000 square metre warehouse near Košice airport is managed
by IOM, which has been present in the Slovak Republic since 2001.
Today, it is the hub in the region that co-ordinates humanitarian
efforts for Ukraine. The goods are stored before being sent to Uzhgorod
in Ukraine, where they are transported to their final destination,
such as Dnipro, Zhitomir, Chernivtsi or Zaparozhije. Approximately
25 trucks per day are transported, mainly from Greece or Turkey.
The range of products stored on the imposing shelves is extremely varied,
since all the needs of daily life must be met simultaneously: hygiene
kits, blankets, nails, tarpoline, plywood, kitchen appliances, construction
tools, mattresses, etc.
54. The warehouse, which opened on 25 February, employs Ukrainian
refugees and students, among others. The IOM faces many challenges,
including the issue of drivers, who refuse to go to Ukraine, while Ukrainian
men are not allowed to leave their country if they are under 60
years. Apart from the issue of the separation of rails in the former
Soviet Union countries different than from the rest of Europe, a
strategic decision has been taken not to use the railways; this
option is therefore not on the table.
55. IOM is trying to meet the most urgent needs in an extremely
volatile situation, where many Ukrainians are trying to return home
after losing everything, and have to go back to a safer place where
they can find temporary accommodation. Housing is undoubtedly one
of the greatest long-term challenges that Ukraine and the bordering
countries face, as even when the war is over, millions of Ukrainians
will have nowhere to return.
56. For the time being, the most urgent needs are being addressed.
For example, the IOM has concluded an agreement with Airbnb, in
co-operation with the municipality of Košice, by renting flats for
up to three months, where refugees will be temporarily housed. In
Poland, the organisation has also used the Airbnb platform to house
third-country nationals prior to their repatriation to their country
57. In Chernivtsi, the humanitarian warehouse, located in a former
sports centre, has been operating since 24 February 24/7. Food from
all over the world is sorted, stored and distributed there. It is
run by the State, with humanitarian organisations and individual
volunteers working there. The manager complains that the amount of
aid has decreased significantly since the beginning of the war,
when volunteers used to prepare up to 6 000 shopping bags a day;
now there is only enough food to prepare 1 000 bags a day. The person
in charge explains that each bag weighs 12 to 15 kilos so that one
person can carry it without help. We understand why products in
glass jars are not accepted, they are too heavy. Each bag is supposed
to last a week, and the manager insists on the need to provide a
variety of products to the displaced people. Particular attention
is paid to products for babies, not only food, but also pushchairs
and hygiene products, so that they suffer as little as possible
from this war.
58. I also visited the popular canteen “Dolfin” in Uzhgorod, one
of the many places where meals are distributed to displaced people
free of charge. The restaurant is run by the organisation “World
Central Kitchen” and volunteers. The cheerful atmosphere that reigns
there does not manage to conceal the uncertainty that surrounds
its functioning. At the time of my visit, the volunteers were worried
that the owner would repossess the premises after having made it
available free of charge; they were distressed to note the decrease
in donations and products made available by the town hall. Indeed,
whereas at the beginning of the war, “Dolfin” served more than 5 000
meals a day, by the beginning of May, this figure had dropped to
1 000. In Transcarpathia, the region takes care of the cost of food
for displaced people, unlike in other regions where this is the
responsibility of the cities, such as Chernivtsi.
59. The State pays an allowance to registered IDPs, 2 000 hryvnas
per adult and 1 000 per child. At the beginning of May, although
only 2 million IDPs were registered out of an estimated 7 million
(the rest probably still have means to support themselves), the
computer systems were too slow to respond to all the requests. It was
explained to me that too much digitalisation had led to the collapse
of the IT system.
60. The military governors of the Transcarpathian and Chernivtsi
regions warned that the regions' budgets had almost been spent.
Their annual budget, intended for roads and other infrastructure,
has been used for emergency aid following the Russian aggression.
If the war continues for another two to three months, there will
not be enough money to buy the millions of tons of food needed every
day to feed free of charge all the displaced people present on their
61. The visit to the two warehouses and the popular kitchen, as
well as the meeting with this new generation of Ukrainian leaders
who speak of public service and general interest shed a raw light
on the need to maintain constant aid for food, clothing, medical
and hygiene products, and other products of daily life to Ukraine,
while boosting longer-term aid, particularly with regard to housing.
This issue is not only relevant for Ukraine, but also for some of
the border countries that have hosted many refugees.
and emergency reception in border countries
The arrival at the borders
and the emergency measures put in place in the first weeks of the
war are now well documented. The FRA, which was the first to visit
the EU's borders with Ukraine after the war began, recently published
a report detailing the reception of Ukrainian refugees in the first
weeks of the war.Note
Through her visits to the Republic
of Moldova, and subsequently to Hungary, Poland, the Slovak Republic,
the Czech Republic and Romania, the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Council of Europe has been able to see the extent of the
efforts made by central and local authorities as well as civil society,
and has made specific recommendations which I fully endorse.Note
For my part, I was also able to witness
this humanitarian disaster which unfolded in just a few weeks.
63. No one was prepared for the wave of people who fled the bombing
and fighting to neighbouring countries on 24 February.
64. According to all my interlocutors, the first to come to the
border to welcome their Ukrainian neighbours were individuals, including
members of the Ukrainian diaspora, even before non-governmental organisations and
the authorities. In Košice, for example, Ukrainian students present
in large numbers were the first to come to help.
The profile of the exiles has changed over the weeks, but
women and children remain the vast majority, as men between 18 and
60 are not allowed to leave the country due to martial law.Note
Initially, the people who left were
those who had somewhere to go, to family or friends, who were better
off, and who had a car. Then, it was the working classes, direct
or indirect victims of the crimes committed by the Russian army,
who left, having lost everything. As the weeks went by, elderly
people, often isolated, as well as disabled people took the road.
Thousands of unaccompanied children, most of them orphans, have
also left Ukraine.
66. Heart-breaking scenes occurred at the borders, where families
were separated, with the men staying behind, leaving their wives
and children to an uncertain future, while they returned to the
certainty of war.
67. Neighbouring countries immediately opened their borders, sometimes
to the surprise of civil society. The situation was more complicated
for Roma and third-country nationals, whose fate I will briefly
mention below (paras 112 and 113).
68. Waves of several thousand people crossed the borders in the
first weeks, with images of endless queues of vehicles and people
on foot. Thus, there were up to 300 000 people a day crossing the
Polish border. In the first few days, their registration was very
basic as each person spent on average less than two minutes at passport
control. With border controls almost non-existent, it is not surprising
that there was some confusion at the beginning. For example, some
people did not have their passports stamped, and in the case of
non-biometric documents, this could cause problems later when they
applied for temporary protection under EU Directive 2001/55/E.
69. These early days also saw unaccompanied separated children
and women disappear into the wilderness, before measures were taken,
including data collection, to address the risks of human trafficking and
abuse and exploitation (see para 90).
70. The border countries have shown an admirable welcome and strong
commitment, providing from the outset, emergency accommodation,
psychological support, free transport, and above all, thanks to
the activation of the 2001 Temporary Protection Directive as from
4 March 2022, a residence permit with certain rights, notably in
terms of social protection and health.
71. Reception measures were quickly put in place. Local authorities
undoubtedly played a fundamental role in managing the arrival and
reception of Ukrainian refugees. For example, the Siret transit
camp in Romania was set up within hours. These reception centres,
set up near the borders, were intended as a break, where people
were supposed to spend a few hours to two days, resting, thinking
about where they wanted to go, having a hot meal, a shower, getting
psychological or medical help if necessary. In the reception centre
in Michalovce, they can also apply for temporary protection. All
the emergency services are thus concentrated under one roof, or
more precisely under the same stars, since they are usually set
up outside, for example, on a municipal football pitch, as is the
case in Siret.
72. People arriving on foot were transported there from the border
by volunteers, the police, bus companies chartered by municipalities,
in short, by all the goodwill moved by the fate of those fleeing
73. I was told that as the days passed, the refugees had less
and less idea about their final destination. Many decided to stay
close to the border so that they could return to Ukraine quickly.
Some made the choice to return, thus preferring the status of displaced
person to that of refugee. These two-way movements across the borders pose
statistical problems as it is difficult to keep track of those who
stayed in the border countries and those who returned to Ukraine,
especially as some returns are short-term, to visit an old relative,
plant a field or check on the state of one's home, before leaving
Ukraine again until the next time. This is why it is no longer possible to
enter Ukraine on foot from the Vyšné Nemecké border post in the
Slovak Republic, an exception having been made when I myself crossed
the border to Uzhgorod.
74. Some people left Ukraine by train or bus. Many emergency reception
centres are thus situated near railway and bus stations. In Košice,
for example, the “Red Star” swimming pool serves as an emergency reception
centre, with a capacity of up to 400 people per day, and is run
by the city with the support of IOM and civil society, which also
provides meals. These shelters often have a precarious status. The
deputy mayor of Košice explained to me that the swimming pool would
have to be vacated for the summer, while in Michalovce, the owner
of the land would like to have it back eventually. Even if the wave
of arrivals has significantly dropped, it is essential to maintain
such structures in case of new flows of refugees, which would inevitably
occur, particularly in the event of fighting and bombing affecting
regions that have been spared until now.
75. It is difficult not to compare this openness with the hostile
attitude of some countries to migrants from other parts of the world,
notably Afghanistan and Syria, and the double standards that have
been observed in this area. However, this precedent is to be welcomed,
as it proves that when a country has the will, it can open up to
others. This is a positive message that should be taken advantage
76. The fact that the countries bordering Ukraine managed to organise
the reception of Ukrainians so quickly, without a pre-established
crisis plan, is to be welcomed. However, it should be remembered
that without civil society, the authorities would not have managed
to do this on their own. The private sector also played a significant
role. In Michalovce, for example, my Slovakian interlocutors pointed
out that its reception centre is a good example of co-ordination
between the State, civil society and the private sector. The person who
runs the centre comes from the event industry.
77. The reception centres I visited have sufficient capacity and
relatively good living conditions. Many rely on volunteers, who
are sometimes left to their own devices. They told me that they
were overwhelmed at the beginning, not sufficiently co-ordinated
with the authorities, especially at the border. Co-ordination mechanisms have
gradually been put in place, but civil society still feels that
it is not treated as a full partner.
78. The issue of co-ordination with the national authorities,
notably the Ministry of the Interior, is key to ensure effective
management. There are tensions between the municipalities, which
are governed by opposition parties, and the central government,
making it difficult to transfer funds.
79. The outpouring of solidarity was immediate, spontaneous and
boundless. However, as the months go by, it is no longer possible
to count on it in the long term and permanent solutions must be
envisaged, particularly in terms of housing.
The Temporary Protection Directive
was activated on 4 March 2022. Since then, the four EU member States
bordering Ukraine have transposed it and incorporated the implementing
decision into their national legislation.Note
They apply temporary protection to
Ukrainian nationals and beneficiaries of international protection,
including stateless persons, and their relatives. However, the protection
of non-Ukrainian third-country nationals who are fleeing war varies.
81. As Ukrainian nationals with biometric passports can enter
the Schengen area, and Romania, without a visa for 90 days, the
application for temporary protection was not always made at the
outset. Indeed, many Ukrainians hoped to be able to return home
after a quick victory of the Ukrainian army. Unfortunately, as the weeks
passed, there was less certainty of a quick return. Also, given
the extent of the damage caused by the Russian army, it is clear
that thousands of people will have nowhere to return.
Beneficiaries of temporary protection receive a residence
permit valid for one year, which can be extended up to three years.
They enjoy rights and benefits such as access to employment, housing
or accommodation, social protection and medical care. Children have
access to education and families have the right to reunite. Beneficiaries
also have access to banking services and can move freely within
EU countries for 90 days within a 180-day period.Note
83. Non-Ukrainian third-country nationals who are permanently
resident in Ukraine must also be protected, in accordance with Article
2.2 of the Implementing Decision. EU member States must either apply
the EU temporary protection regime or provide adequate protection
under their national legislation. EU member States may also extend
the scheme to other legally residing non-Ukrainian third-country
nationals (Article 2.3 of the Implementing Decision). This applies
to those who entered the EU after 24 February 2022 and who cannot safely
return to their country or region of origin.
84. In Poland, civil society pointed out a number of shortcomings
in the Act of 12 March 2022 transposing the Directive, particularly
with regard to foreign mothers of Ukrainian children and access
to certain services. Amendments were subsequently adopted to remedy
85. Article 10 of the Directive requires member States to provide
information, including in writing, to persons eligible for temporary
protection. This information was not always provided in a systematic
and reliable manner at the outset, although the situation has improved
significantly since then. In practice, this information is often provided
by civil society, as for example in the Slovak Republic where the
NGOs “League of Human Rights” and “Mareena” created the first websites
providing information on the procedures and rights related to the Directive.
86. In the Slovak Republic, applications for temporary protection
can be made at four locations, including the reception centre in
Michalovce. As the Regional Office of the Refugee Police in Košice
only registers children under 6 years of age, pregnant women and
persons over 65 years and persons with disabilities, other applicants
for temporary protection had to be transported from Košice to Michalovce
to apply there. The number of people registered in Michalovce was
disproportionately higher than in Košice (7 100 compared to 3 500),
while most of them resided in Košice. This created bureaucratic
problems requiring refugees to change their place of registration.
of human trafficking and forced labour
International actors on the
ground identified the risk of human trafficking as high from the
start of the war. The Council of Europe's bodies and institutions
reacted swiftly by calling on States to act urgently to protect refugees
fleeing Ukraine from human trafficking. For example, on International
Women's Day on 8 March, the Secretary General of the Council of
Europe called for special protection for women and girls,Note
as did the Commissioner for Human
Rights following her visit to the border countriesNote
, and the Council of Europe's Group
of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
in a statement on 17 March.Note
88. Our interlocutors unanimously stressed the chaos that reigned
in the first days and confirmed the high risk of human trafficking.
As most of the people fleeing Ukraine were young women with or without
children, it was a golden opportunity not to be missed for the traffickers
who take advantage of human misery.
89. However, measures were soon taken to prevent women fleeing
the war from falling into the clutches of traffickers. For example,
at Vyšné Nemecké, one of the border crossing points between the
Slovak Republic and Ukraine, a “meet and greet” point has been set
up where vehicles picking up refugees are registered and their drivers
checked. However, the risk is not completely eliminated in the case
of “voluntary departure”, since in this case the police cannot do
anything to prevent the passenger from leaving for an unknown fate. Moreover,
the place is located in the middle of nowhere and is not clearly
marked, so it is easy to miss it and use this pretext to go directly
to the border and park quietly.
90. While UNHCR and UNICEF have set up Blue Dots, IOM has put
up banners at the border and distributed leaflets warning of the
risk of human trafficking, with the aim of increasing the vigilance
of those crossing the border and helping them “to help themselves”.
The non-governmental organisation “La Strada” also plays a preventive
role, particularly with regard to forced labour, another danger
for people fleeing Ukraine. Even if the numbers are difficult to
estimate, the risk of undeclared people without adequate wages and
without any social protection cannot be minimised.
91. Other measures have been put in place, such as the registration
of those offering accommodation or the organisation of discreet
police operations at arrival points.
92. These necessary measures are clearly insufficient, especially
when women seeking to flee Ukraine use social networks to find help,
or when unscrupulous people go so far as to cross the Ukrainian
border to seek their future victims directly.
This is why the joint anti-trafficking plan just unveiled
by the European Commission is most welcome.Note
Developed under the leadership of
the EU Anti-Trafficking CoordinatorNote
and with the support of EU agencies and
member States, it aims to raise awareness, strengthen prevention
against trafficking in human beings, improve law enforcement and
judicial response, as well as enhance victim identification and
support. The plan also addresses co-operation at global level and
with third countries, in particular the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
It will only be possible to assess its impact once it is operational.
Of course, it remains crucial to intensify and systematise
efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, drawing
on the guiding principles made by the Council of Europe's specialised
plight of vulnerable people
The Council of Europe Action
Plan on the Protection of Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and
Asylum in Europe (2021-2025)Note
provides valuable guidance on how
vulnerable persons should be treated. The Special Representative
of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees is personally committed
to providing concrete responses to the many challenges posed by
the exile of millions of Ukrainians in vulnerable situations.Note
Children are a particularly vulnerable group, especially as
90% of those who fled Ukraine were women and children according
For this reason, the Committee of
the Parties to the Convention on the Protection of Children against
Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse ( CETS No. 201) (Lanzarote
Committee) called for urgent protection of Ukrainian children in
migration from sexual abuse in a statement on 25 March.Note
97. The exact number of children who arrived unaccompanied (without
any accompanying person) and those who arrived separated (those
who arrive without their parents, but accompanied by other relatives
or carers, such as family friends) is still unknown.
98. Some children left with a parental note authorising the child
to travel with other adults. Others, separated and unaccompanied,
were identified and referred to child protection services.
99. Some of the children living in institutions were brought from
Ukraine in groups with staff working in these institutions. These
groups were evacuated through official channels or private initiatives.
Often these children were only transiting through border countries
on their way to Germany, Lithuania, Spain or other EU countries.
100. In Poland, my civil society interlocutors expressed concern
about the lack of registration of Ukrainian children in the early
days. Since then, a register has been set up, obliging the authorities
to register unaccompanied children entering Poland. This measure
only applies to children of Ukrainian nationality.
101. The Polish law provides that a person can be appointed as
a guardian (opiekun) for any
number of unaccompanied minors as long as their interests are not
at odds. The new institution of a “temporary guardian”, created
by the new law on assistance to Ukrainian nationals, adopted in
March and amended in April, mirrors this provision, allowing for
the care of one person over any number of unaccompanied Ukrainian
children. If a person is appointed as temporary guardian for more
than 15 children, for every batch of 15 children beyond the initial
15, at least one extra paid carer has to be hired by the local welfare
office, for at least 40h/week, to assist the temporary guardian
with care over the group. Family courts are required to rule on
each request in respect of every single unaccompanied child. The
new, simplified, procedure provides that where the person to be
appointed is already the de facto carer
for the child, the court may dispense with the public hearing and decide
the case solely on the basis of documents. While the NGOs I met
welcomed this simplified procedure in some of the most straightforward
cases to avoid heavy burdens on family court dockets, they also
indicated that it could also potentially create problems.
102. An unusual problem was raised concerning adolescents aged
16 and over, who left without their parents, sometimes accompanied
by younger siblings in their care. As minors, they should be given
the protection they deserve, while they, and their parents, see
themselves as autonomous young adults. The systems in place are not
able to provide adequate solutions to such situations.
103. In Romania, the Child Protection Unit has received more than
2 700 unaccompanied minors, of whom only 255 are registered in the
social protection system.
104. According to the information I received, 75% of the orphans
are disabled. Their long-term fate is of great concern. The city
of Iaşi hosts two placement centres for orphans.
105. Ukrainian children who remained in Ukraine were sometimes
lucky enough to stay with their fathers.
As Ukraine is a country where surrogate pregnancy is allowed,
many babies have been born without their intended parents being
able to come and take them.Note
Some of them are kept by the midwives
of the maternity hospitals where they were born. Regardless of their
family status, it is important not to forget these children and
to consider their best interest.
107. The topic of unaccompanied and separated minors was the subject
of the report entitled “Protection and alternative care for unaccompanied
and separated migrant and refugee children” to which I refer for
a more detailed analysis.
108. The elderly are another group of vulnerable people because
of the risk of impoverishment. In Romania, more than 1 000 people
have applied for social services even though there is no mechanism
to manage social emergencies in the country. The establishment of
such a system would be beneficial beyond the Ukrainian refugees.
109. Concerns about discrimination
against the Roma minority, non-Ukrainian third-country nationals, lesbian,
gay, bisexual, trans, intersex (LGBTI) people, and other marginalised
groups merit a separate study. These concerns have been brought
to my attention by representatives of civil society organisations
and international organisations I have met.
Roma, often stateless, continue to suffer from stigma and
discrimination in war. As one of my Slovak interlocutors told me:
“here, we have racism under our skin”, referring to the differential
treatment of people of Roma origin. During my missions, I heard
several examples of discrimination with regard to access to housing, education
or the possibility of returning to Ukraine in cases of statelessness.
I have also seen with my own eyes how a Roma child was addressed
with contempt by a reception centre manager. The Commissioner for
Human Rights of the Council of Europe has also reported allegations
of discrimination against Roma in the provision of humanitarian
aid or transport. She also reports that Roma have been evicted from
places of transit, such as bus or train stations, or from hostels,
and is concerned about the availability of adequate accommodation
for some Roma families.Note
Third-country nationals were in principle assisted to return
to their country of origin, including through return flights organised
by the IOM, but those without consular protection, such as Syrians
or Palestinians, found themselves in a grey area without the benefit
of the temporary protection reserved for Ukrainians. A number of
students would have liked to have had the opportunity to take their
exams in Ukraine. Beyond the shocking images of foreign men being
pulled out of buses to make room for Ukrainian women and children
who had priority, there were clearly double standards applied to
non-Ukrainians who fled Ukraine, which merit attention so that Europe
could envisage how to abandon the fortress it is locking itself
into. The fate of irregular migrants detained in Ukraine should
Hate speech, if not hateful attitudes, have affected many
LGBTI persons, who represent a particularly vulnerable category
of persons. Their specific needs, including not being stigmatised
after leaving Ukraine, have been addressed mainly by civil society
and international organisations.Note
On the occasion of the International
Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on 17 May, the
Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe also recalled
the unenviable fate of transgender persons remaining in Ukraine.Note
In a Declaration adopted on 1st April
2022, Christophe Lacroix (Belgium, SOC), General Rapporteur of the
Assembly on the rights of LGBTI persons called on all Council of
Europe member States to ensure full respect for the rights of LGBTI
persons in Ukraine or fleeing from that country.Note
113. In Ukraine, as in the neighbouring
countries, emergency accommodation has been set up in parallel with the
reception in private homes that have volunteered. Even several months
after the start of the war, the number of beds needed remains impressive.
The respective authorities responded quickly to the need for emergency
accommodation, with the help of IOM where necessary. Schools and
sports halls were requisitioned. Containers were quickly set up,
like the ones I saw in front of the Košice train station.
114. Thousands of volunteers welcomed refugees into their homes,
in Warsaw, in Uzhgorod, everywhere I went and beyond. Hotel owners
have made their hotels available, such as the Mandachi Hotel in
Suceava, Romania. However, individual goodwill is not enough to
meet the needs.
115. Very quickly, two challenges became apparent. In Poland, the
Slovak Republic and in the regions of Ukraine hosting IDPs, such
as Transcarpathia or the Chernivtsi region, rent prices soared.
Moreover, the number of housing units, especially social ones, was
insufficient even before the war in some countries such as Poland
and the Slovak Republic. There is therefore not enough to cope with
the massive arrival of Ukrainian refugees whose return to Ukraine
is hypothetical as long as the war lasts. Building social housing
is an absolute necessity according to my interlocutors, while stressing
that it must be done without creating ghettos or resentment among
the needy local populations who sometimes feel that they take second
place to the Ukrainian refugees.
Some countries have introduced a stipend to support hosts,
but this is insufficient and there is a real risk that local enthusiasm
will wane in the long term.Note
Ukraine, the State covers the housing costs of those hosting IDPs.
As the months go by, NGOs continue to put refugees or IDPs in contact
with people who wish to host them in their homes.
117. Large cities like Warsaw are overcrowded with a completely
saturated housing market, but the alternative of moving to smaller
cities or to the countryside is not always an option as access to
employment or childcare would be less easy there.
118. In Ukraine, the situation is the same: rents are skyrocketing
and there is not enough housing to accommodate all the displaced
people. In addition, reconstruction will have to be carried out
in the regions that were affected by the destruction of the Russian
army. The challenges are therefore colossal.
119. The housing shortage is accompanied by another challenge that
local authorities cannot face alone, that of infrastructure. As
the Military Governor of Transcarpathia explained to me, the region
does not have the infrastructure to accommodate more than a quarter
of the additional population. Hence, water and waste disposal, services
and transport need to be upgraded urgently.
120. In Uzhgorod, more than 4 000 people are housed in public places,
such as schools and sports halls. These are mostly disadvantaged
people, including Roma. In Chernivsti, 400 public buildings are
in use, including a school that I visited, which is spotless and
in good working order. As the regional military governor explained
to me, one of Ukraine's chances is that President Zelensky had the
schools renovated after his election, so they were well equipped
to provide adequate accommodation for displaced persons after the
121. The school director I met has been transformed overnight into
the 'head' of the accommodation centre. He makes sure that everything
is in order, that his “boarders” have everything they need, not
hesitating to send an old lady from Kharkiv for a nap after lunch,
in a tone that is both firm and benevolent. The school houses a small
menagerie where a few animals live together in the middle of green
plants. This timeless place has become the place where adults and
children come to reassure themselves after the too many sirens that scream
day and night.
122. This solution, however, is not sustainable, especially since
schools will have to reopen at the beginning of the school year.
The military governors of the two regions and the mayors of the
two cities are also thinking about the drop in temperatures that
will come with the autumn. It is urgent to anticipate.
123. A national programme for the construction of housing for displaced
persons has been adopted, which will take at least one year to implement.
One idea put forward by the Military Governor of the Chernivtsi
region is to renovate about 150 public buildings that are not in
use by turning them into residential buildings. This is an excellent
idea that only needs donors and investors. The Military Governor
of Transcarpathia, on the other hand, recommends funding rural residents
to renovate and modernise their houses themselves to be able to accommodate
displaced persons. Before our meeting ended, my interlocutor showed
me a table indicating that 111 000 housing units would be needed
in his region alone.
124. All ideas are good, provided that efforts are co-ordinated.
The needs are best known at the local level, which is why it is
so important to support comprehensive twinning programmes between
cities and regions in Ukraine and the rest of Europe.
125. In Ukraine, schools have been
closed since 24 February and education is provided online. It can
be said that one of the only positive consequences of the Covid-19
outbreak was that the Ukrainian education system was ready for online
education. That said, many issues remain unresolved, although it
can be assumed that the school year will end without too many problems.
126. Many of the children in the IDP reception centres in Ukraine
have no access to the internet, let alone computers, as I have seen.
I spoke to completely idle children for whom school was a distant
127. Most of the female teachers are now abroad (see para 137).
Will they be encouraged/obliged to return to Ukraine to resume their
posts? If not, who will teach when the schools reopen? These questions,
currently unanswered, will have to be resolved taking into account
the will of each, the security situation, balancing the needs and
interests of all stakeholders.
128. For those who have crossed the border, school is a big dilemma
for parents, children and the Ukrainian authorities in terms of
integration: should they join the national system or should they
continue to follow the Ukrainian curriculum in the hope of a quick
return? Clearly, the Ukrainian authorities are counting on the return of
their nationals as soon as the situation allows and are not prepared
to accept the idea of a brain drain.
129. The situation of children attending school abroad varies according
to the host country. I have observed that integration into classes
is easier in countries used to allophone pupils, such as France
and Switzerland, as the education system has the necessary tools
to take into account their specific needs.
Ukraine strongly encourages its pupils to follow the Ukrainian
system of online education. In Poland, the NGOs we met noted with
regret the lack of integration of Ukrainian children who have not
been able to make friends because they do not attend Polish schools.
That said, to provide schooling for the 50,000 or so Ukrainian children
present on the territory, 10 to 15 schools would have to be built,
which is unthinkable in the short term. The Ukrainian diaspora organisation
“Nasz Wybór” has managed to open a school entirely in Ukrainian
following the Ukrainian curriculum with eleven grades for 270 pupils.
The school is financed by the organisation “Save the Children”.Note
The teachers are refugees, and 22
were recruited from over 200 applications received. An agreement
has been reached with the Ukrainian authorities, and the pupils
will be tested in Lviv and their results recognised. The school
is supposed to operate until the end of the school year, but there
is uncertainty about what will happen next.
131. In Romania and the Slovak Republic, children are integrated
into local schools. In Romania, they are mainly integrated in classes
where French and English are taught. Teachers regret the lack of
textbooks that meet the needs of newcomers. In the Slovak Republic,
Ukrainian pupils are given extra language classes. Classes are overcrowded
there, too, as the number of schools is insufficient to cope with
the massive influx of school-age children.
132. I have heard the same statement absolutely everywhere I have
been: “there are not enough kindergartens, there were not enough
before the war”. This shortage undoubtedly contributes to the difficulty mothers
of young children have in integrating into the world of work.
133. As for the students, most of them were lucky enough to be
able to continue their studies online. Those in Poland will go to
Lviv to take their final exams, especially medical students. Although
most of the non-Ukrainian students have been repatriated to their
home countries, they should also be given the opportunity to take
their exams and continue their studies if necessary.
134. I can only hope that the children will soon return home to
their fathers, but it would be an illusion to believe that one can
live in exile under the illusion that nothing has changed. An online
system cannot entirely replace conventional education. Going to
school is also about socialising. Learning a language is an asset
that must be preserved. It is therefore crucial that the host countries
be able to welcome all Ukrainian pupils properly from the beginning
of the school year in September and that language courses be systematically
provided for them. In Ukraine, schools must be able to return to
their aim once displaced persons have been moved in dignified and
135. If there is one challenge that
is far from being solved, it is employment. In Ukraine, millions
of Ukrainians are de facto unemployed,
including displaced persons. In the European Union, although the
Temporary Protection Directive provides access to work for Ukrainian
refugees who benefit from it, there are a number of practical obstacles:
the language barrier, equivalence of diplomas and childcare.
136. To remedy this situation, several systems and mechanisms have
been put in place in the host countries. For example, in Poland,
“Nasz Wybór” has organised a mentoring system to help women prepare
CVs in line with Polish employers' expectations. A fast-track system
for the recognition of Ukrainian medical degrees was also introduced.
In Romania, the refugee reception centre in Iaşi that I visited
provides Romanian language classes in English. In Chernivtsi, which
is entirely Ukrainian-speaking and many of its inhabitants also
speak Romanian, Russian-speaking IDPs attend Ukrainian language
classes to avoid the risk of being stigmatised.
137. A different problem affects refugee women teachers abroad.
As education has been organised online since the beginning of the
war, they work full time and receive their Ukrainian salary, which
is far too low compared to the cost of living in the European Union.
138. Their presence abroad is of concern to the Ukrainian authorities
as it is not clear who will be teaching when schools reopen. The
military governor of the Transcarpathian region has confirmed that
he is concerned about the lack of staff in kindergartens, schools
and hospitals. Companies employing displaced persons receive financial
compensation from the State.
139. Paradoxically, the war in Ukraine also caused a labour shortage
in Poland, as more than one million Ukrainians lived there before
the war, most of them working in construction. These workers all
returned to Ukraine after 24 February to defend their country.
140. Many companies based in the war zones have been relocated
within Ukraine itself, such as to Chernivtsi and Uzhgorod, as well
as abroad. In the Slovak Republic, for example, more than 90 IT
companies have been relocated from Ukraine and also from Belarus.
141. In addition to immediate measures, solutions for the future
are already being considered. For example, the Chernivtsi region
would be prepared to make land belonging to it available free of
charge to companies, which would be responsible for building housing
and setting up there in the long term.
142. There is no shortage of ideas for those who run the regions
and cities of Ukraine. They are the ones who know the needs of their
territories best and it is to them that we must turn to analyse
the needs and opportunities as closely as possible to reality.
protection, health and psychological support
143. The war that Ukrainians have
been suffering since 24 February has had a direct impact on their
health. The chronically ill, the seriously ill, the mentally ill,
the traumatised, pregnant women, women who have given birth, rape
victims, all of them have had to deal with overcrowded systems that
are not always equipped to receive them according to Hippocratic
144. Social protection is provided to refugees who are granted
temporary protection. In addition, each person receives a small
allowance, which amount varies depending on the country, from the
first month of obtaining this status. However, this is not enough
to live on, and many Ukrainian refugees are supported by their host families.
For many of these families, this support is a burden that they will
not be able to bear in the long term.
145. Without dwelling on this important issue, I would like to
highlight three main problems facing Ukrainians, both in Ukraine
and abroad. Firstly, in Ukraine, the number of planned operations
has tripled in Uzhgorod with the arrival of displaced persons. It
is not only medical staff that is lacking, but also equipment and
medicines, produced in Kyiv and Kharkiv. Abroad, women's reproductive
rights are undermined in Poland, which has led some to come to the
Slovak Republic for abortions. Finally, for chronic diseases, there
is not always consistency between the treatments prescribed in Ukraine
and those in the host country. Equivalence systems had to be found,
which caused anxiety among patients.
146. Fortunately, the language barrier has not always been an obstacle,
especially in the Slovak Republic where many Ukrainian doctors were
already working, but it is crucial to ensure a rapid bridge for
Ukrainian refugee health professionals so that their diplomas are
quickly recognised and they can start practising, also to compensate
for the sometimes-inadequate health systems of the host countries.
147. There is also a huge need for qualified personnel to provide
psychological care for people who have suffered war trauma. I saw
drawings of children that clearly indicated that they had been victims
of trauma. I was impressed by the emergency care provided by the
“IPČKO” Intervention Centre in the Slovak Republic, including the
technique of “huggy puppy therapy”, and by the efforts made at the
refugee reception centre in Iaşi in the longer term. Quality interpretation
is key to the impact of any psychological support.
148. Integration is not only a dilemma
for Ukrainians who have fled the war abroad. For the host countries, the
issue is also relevant, especially in the Slovak Republic, which
was initially considered a transit country, but where refugees are
increasingly staying. As the figures are not reliable, it is difficult
to plan their integration, but what is certain is that the poorer
the people who arrive, the more certain it is that they will not
go any further. Therefore, we need to support the host countries
to help integrate these people. At the moment, the main actors of
integration are non-governmental organisations, which offer language
courses, cultural activities etc., such as the Polish Centre for
International Aid and the Ocalenie Foundation in Poland, or the
organisation “Mareena” and the League of Human Rights in the Slovak
149. Uncertainty is not conducive to long-term projects, but I
am convinced that the host societies and the Ukrainians will be
mutually enriched by a focused and caring integration, no matter
how long the latter are in exile.
150. One image has not left me since
the journey I undertook to prepare this report. It is the one inspired
by Serhiy Osachuk, the military governor of the Chernivtsi region:
children playing with building blocks, trying to assemble, combine
and join together pieces of all sizes, shapes and colours to build
the most beautiful artefact in the world. For him, this is Ukraine:
a community that works together to build a country where it is good
to live, in the joy and pleasure of the effort. If Russia, with
its aggression, has suspended this process, it can never stop it,
and the sooner it understands this, the better. The above proposals
are intended to help Ukraine never to abandon its ambition and to
achieve it as soon as possible.