Humanitarian consequences and internal and external displacement in connection with the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 22 June 2022 (22nd sitting) (see Doc. 15547 and addendum, report of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and
Displaced Persons, rapporteur: Mr Pierre-Alain Fridez). Text adopted by the Assembly on 22 June
2022 (22nd sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly is extremely
concerned about the humanitarian consequences caused by the Russian
war of aggression against Ukraine, which has displaced millions
of people and caused the largest population movement since the Second
World War. It is appalled by the staggering and growing numbers,
with more than a quarter of the Ukrainian population having fled
the bombing, atrocities and terror by mid-May 2022.
2. The Assembly strongly condemns the forced deportation by the
Russian Federation of more than 1 million Ukrainians from the temporarily
occupied territories of Ukraine to its territory under the guise
of “peaceful evacuation” and is struck by the fact that 183 000
children are among them.
The Assembly also recalls its Resolution 2198 (2018)
consequences of the war in Ukraine” in which the Assembly had already
expressed alarm at the humanitarian situation resulting from the ongoing
Russian war against Ukraine, however, the situation at present has
deteriorated and needs extraordinary and swift steps to address
Applauding the rapid reaction of the Council of Europe, which
suspended the Russian Federation as early as 25 February 2022 and
excluded it on 16 March 2022, in response to Opinion 300 (2022)
of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine” adopted
unanimously by this Assembly, the Assembly calls on Council of Europe
member States to support the Organisation’s long-term commitment
to Ukraine as set out in the adjusted Action Plan for Ukraine (2018-2022),
which contains a series of immediate measures to address the direct
consequences of the aggression committed by the Russian Federation.
5. The Assembly commends the solidarity demonstrated by Council
of Europe member States in opening their borders from 24 February
2022 and welcomes the fact that the European Union States have activated, for
the first time since its adoption in 2001, Directive 2001/55/EC
(the so-called “Temporary Protection Directive”) and incorporated
it into their national law. It calls on all national parliaments,
including those of non-European Union member States that have not
yet done so, to put in place at least equivalent protection and
to extend it to also cover third-country nationals. This could include
the lifting of visa restrictions where necessary.
6. The Assembly is impressed by the admirable efforts made by
Ukraine, which, in addition to defending its territory and the values
of freedom and democracy it holds dear, has to meet the needs of
the 7 to 9 million displaced persons who have found refuge in regions
hitherto relatively untouched by the war.
7. While hoping for a rapid cessation of hostilities, the Assembly
is aware that the humanitarian consequences will not be resolved
in the short term. It is therefore essential to ensure continued,
long-term and co-ordinated support from Council of Europe member
States in order to guarantee that displaced persons and refugees
from Ukraine receive all the assistance they need to live in dignity
and face the future.
8. The Assembly calls on the Ukrainian and Russian authorities
to resume the exchange of prisoners of war and return them to their
territories in accordance with the rules of the Geneva conventions,
through the International Committee of the Red Cross and other international
9. Convinced that the dignified reception of those who have fled
the war in Ukraine is undeniably a duty of all Council of Europe
member States, the Assembly believes it is necessary to create the
conditions if the resilience of the Ukrainian people is to be sustainable
in the long term.
10. At the same time, it is necessary to start thinking now about
the reconstruction of Ukraine, which will have to face many challenges,
especially with regard to the environment and infrastructure. In
this context, the Assembly welcomes the pledges made at the High-level
International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine in Warsaw held in Warsaw
on 5 May 2022. In parallel, the Council of Europe will promote and
ensure a comprehensive system of accountability for the war of aggression
against Ukraine and gross human rights breaches by institutionalising
a compensation mechanism for Ukraine. This international assistance
will need to be carefully targeted and co-ordinated in order to
meet all of Ukrainian society’s needs.
11. In the meantime, as long as the war continues, the Assembly
stresses the need for a co-ordinated, continuous, long-term and
non-discriminatory support policy, involving all relevant players,
international organisations, central authorities, regional and local
authorities, civil society and the private sector.
12. Acknowledging the enormous generosity shown by Europeans towards
Ukraine through the very substantial humanitarian donations made
since 24 February 2022, the Assembly regrets their gradual decrease
and urges constant and sustained efforts, while recalling that this
humanitarian aid must be subject to monitoring and quality control.
To this end, it encourages the European Union, the relevant United
Nations agencies and the Ukrainian authorities responsible to set
up a mechanism to carry out these tasks.
13. The Assembly calls on the European Union to urgently provide
explicit legal clarification on the rights of those benefiting from
temporary protection who, having stayed in the European Union for
more than 90 days within a 180-day period and then returned to Ukraine,
wish to re-enter the territory of the European Union.
14. The Assembly encourages the member States to develop humanitarian
crisis-management action plans in order to avoid the improvisation
seen in the early days of the war. Those States with no tradition
of taking in migrants should reflect on their recent experience
in order to envisage a paradigm shift.
15. The Assembly considers that an integrated approach to the
assessment of Ukraine’s humanitarian needs is indispensable. In
this context, the support provided by international organisations,
in particular the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration
(IOM), is essential.
16. The Assembly recalls that infrastructure issues (roads, transport,
water drainage, waste management, etc.) need to be examined at the
same time as the assessment of housing needs. It welcomes the recent initiative
of 120 architects from all over Ukraine who met in Irpin in the
Kyiv region to draw up a development strategy for the reconstruction
of the city and recommends the creation of a network of non-governmental organisations
that, under the leadership of the Council of Europe’s Conference
of International Non-Governmental Organisations, will bring together
architects and engineers from Council of Europe member States who
could provide support to their Ukrainian colleagues.
17. Recognising the primary responsibility of national authorities
for taking in refugees, the Assembly is impressed by the key role
played by civil society in providing a dignified humanitarian response
to the plight of the Ukrainian people and realises that this support
is essential for addressing the many challenges faced by host States.
It regrets, however, that this role does not always receive due
recognition and calls on national authorities to treat non-governmental
organisations, Ukrainian diaspora associations, volunteers and other players
as full partners. Those partners whose competences and involvement
are well established should be eligible for national and international
The Assembly is deeply concerned about the plight of certain
18.1 It encourages
the member States of the Council of Europe, including their national
parliaments, to embrace the activities, norms and standards developed
in connection with the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting
Vulnerable Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe
(2021-2025) in order to implement all necessary measures to address
the vulnerability of certain individuals.
18.2 It reiterates the compelling need to identify those in
vulnerable situations at an early stage and to comply with the norms
and standards of the Council of Europe as developed in connection
with the Council of Europe Action Plan on Protecting Vulnerable
Persons in the Context of Migration and Asylum in Europe (2021-2025).
18.3 In order to prevent human trafficking, it recommends the
establishment of a transnational tracking system that would help
border police to identify potential victims more easily. In general,
it is still necessary to intensify measures to prevent and combat
human trafficking and the abuse and exploitation of vulnerable people,
especially women and children, drawing on the guidance note on addressing
the risks of trafficking in human beings related to the war in Ukraine
and the ensuing humanitarian crisis from the Group of Experts on
Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).
18.4 Recalling that unaccompanied and missing children (whether
they have left Ukraine or are still on its territory) are at a higher
risk of sexual exploitation and abuse, the Assembly welcomes the
statement on protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual
abuse resulting from the military aggression of the Russian Federation
against Ukraine adopted on 10 March 2022 by the Committee of the
Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of
Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201)
(the Lanzarote Committee). It is essential that States implement
the recommendations adopted by the Lanzarote Committee in the context
of its special report “Protecting children affected by the refugee
crisis from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse” and follow the guidance
to States on the prevention and protection of children from sexual
exploitation and sexual abuse in the context of migration and asylum
contained in the checklist prepared for this purpose.
18.5 Welcoming Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)17 of the Committee
of Ministers of the Council of Europe on protecting the rights of
migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls, adopted on 20 May
2022, the Assembly calls for its effective implementation. In this
context, it calls for the implementation of gender-sensitive policies
18.6 It emphasises the importance of the accountability and
transparency of aid beneficiaries and the distribution of international
aid, assistance and funding for the urgent needs of displaced persons.
18.7 The Assembly regrets that third-country nationals have
not been given the same welcome as Ukrainian nationals and reiterates
the obligation to protect people fleeing from Ukraine against xenophobic
and racist violence and hate speech. It strongly encourages member
States to take due account of the statement on the consequences
of the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine adopted
by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)
at its 88th plenary meeting (29 March-1 April 2022) and hopes that
the response by member States and the many initiatives developed
during this period will also benefit other refugees in Europe and
that a new approach will be adopted towards them. The Assembly stresses
the need to ensure equal opportunities in access to education for
all pupils and students whose education was interrupted by the outbreak
of hostilities in Ukraine. It also recommends introducing the possibility
of taking examinations remotely, particularly for students from
third countries, or the option of returning to Ukraine to study
once that is practicable.
18.8 The situation of Roma remains a matter of concern. It
has exposed the continuing difficulties concerning identity documentation
for Roma in Ukraine and the need to resolve these difficulties as
soon as conditions permit. The Assembly stresses the need for safe
and regular routes to safety for everyone, regardless of their nationality,
ethnicity or religion – including stateless people and undocumented Roma.
It refers to the statement by the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Council of Europe of 7 April 2022, who urged all member States
to raise awareness of the vulnerabilities and difficulties faced by
Roma fleeing the war, and to increase their efforts to resolve them,
in particular by ensuring that humanitarian assistance is provided
to everyone, without any discrimination. The Assembly suggests that,
when preparing their monitoring reports on the situation in Ukraine
and the other countries concerned, the relevant Council of Europe
bodies should take stock of the situation and propose concrete solutions
and recommends the mobilisation of the Council of Europe’s Roma
and Travellers Team to ensure that Roma fleeing the fighting are
given adequate and long-term protection, including the possibility
to obtain a residence permit or citizenship and, indeed, to participate
in integration programmes without being stigmatised.
18.9 The Assembly reiterates the need to ensure the rights
of everyone, without discrimination, and in this connection calls
on all member States to consider the situation of LGBTI (lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex) persons who are still in Ukraine
or are fleeing the war in order to ensure that their vulnerability
and needs are fully taken into account in the humanitarian assistance
provided to them.
The Assembly recalls that the situation of children requires
specific measures, based on the principle of the best interests
of the child. With regard to unaccompanied and separated children,
it refers to Resolution
“Protection and alternative care for unaccompanied
or separated migrant or refugee children”, to the Recommendation
of the Committee of Ministers CM/Rec(2019)11 on effective guardianship
for unaccompanied and separated children in the context of migration,
and to the “Guide on family-based care for unaccompanied and separated
children”, adopted by the Steering Committee for Human Rights (CDDH)
in December 2021. It also recalls the measures proposed under strategic objective
6 (“Children's rights in crisis and emergency situations”) of the
new Council of Europe Strategy for the Rights of the Child (2022-2027),
in particular with regard to the protection of migrant children
and children affected by armed conflicts.
Understandably, people who have fled Ukraine face a dilemma
of wishing to return as quickly as possible on the one hand and
needing to integrate on the other. The Assembly recognises displaced
persons’ desire for a safe, voluntary and dignified return, while
being aware, just as they are, of the unstable security situation.
It believes it is essential for people who have fled abroad to escape
the war to find their place in the host society during their stay.
19.1 Therefore, as soon as possible
and at the latest after completing their school year based on the Ukrainian
curriculum, children should be encouraged to attend school in the
country in which they are living at the beginning of the 2022 school
year. The summer holidays could provide an opportunity to prepare
them for starting school in their host country. The language education
and linguistic integration tools for children developed by the Council
of Europe should be used systematically. On their return to Ukraine,
the learning acquired should be recognised by the Ukrainian school
system. Access for their children to pre-school facilities is also
very important for many women arriving with young children, for whom
the lack of this type of childcare would make their integration
and access to the labour market even more difficult.
19.2 The Assembly is also aware that access to employment in
host countries remains a major challenge for refugees from Ukraine,
in particular with regard to the recognition of their qualifications.
It welcomes the efforts already undertaken to strengthen the abilities
of professionals in qualification recognition in order to facilitate
the efficient, professional and fair processing of Ukrainian qualifications, and
is pleased that the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees
can assist refugees and host governments in the near future. Already,
16 European countries have joined this Council of Europe project
and the Assembly encourages others to do so in order to assess the
qualifications of Ukrainian people who have been forced to flee
the war, even in the absence of full documentation.
19.3 Local authorities, in co-operation with Ukrainian diaspora
organisations and other civil society representatives, should support
the opening of “Ukrainian houses”, integration centres for displaced Ukrainian
people to better facilitate their socialisation and psychological
assistance, as well as their linguistic preparation with a view
to employment; national authorities should facilitate the resolution
of the housing problems faced by displaced Ukrainian persons, including
through programmes to partially subsidise rental costs.
19.4 An assessment of the needs, both material and psychological,
of those who go back to Ukraine should be carried out by the relevant
bodies and international support programmes to ensure that these people
do not face hardship on their return.
19.5 Special online educational programmes for Ukrainian children
should be funded so that they can continue their education according
to the Ukrainian system.
20. The Assembly is concerned about the mining of Ukraine's territory
by Russia in the context of creating conditions for the safe return
of displaced persons and calls for intensified efforts to assist
Ukraine in accelerating the demining process of its own territories.
21. The Assembly welcomes the active role played by the Council
of Europe Development Bank (CEB) in assisting those fleeing the
war in Ukraine through grants from its Migrant and Refugee Fund
and through loans. Recognising that the arrival of thousands of
refugees from Ukraine has posed an undeniable challenge to its neighbouring
countries, particularly in terms of public services, such as schools,
hospitals and transport, which were already insufficient before
the war, it considers that the current situation of soaring needs
should be turned into an opportunity and serve as an impetus to
strengthen failing and/or insufficient public services, particularly
through the CEB’s involvement.
22. In this context, the Assembly calls on Council of Europe member
States to further strengthen the CEB’s resources with a view to
improving its ability to address urgent needs through targeted grants
and increasing its capacity to finance long-term investments in
social infrastructure in countries hosting large numbers of Ukrainian
refugees, and it urges Ukraine to join the CEB as quickly as possible.
23. Recognising the key role of local and regional authorities
in addressing the dire humanitarian consequences faced by citizens
and aware that needs are best assessed as close to their source
as possible, the Assembly applauds the establishment of the Cities4Cities
platform supported by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities
of the Council of Europe as a co-ordination point for responding
to the demands and needs of Ukrainian cities and regions in a synchronised
manner. It calls for this initiative to be transformed into a fully-fledged
European twinning platform to enable the establishment of detailed
twinning arrangements, with the aim of mobilising solidarity and
ensuring that the humanitarian aid provided corresponds to actual requirements
and is channelled to where it is needed. In addition, the Assembly
invites the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities to consider
ways of helping local authorities to manage the humanitarian consequences
for local communities, in co-ordination with other relevant players.
24. Member States that do not share a border with Ukraine need
to do more to co-ordinate and support the tremendous efforts being
made in the neighbouring countries. The Assembly calls on central,
regional and local authorities to facilitate the intra- and international
transport of displaced persons, in particular by providing additional
means of transport and related services, such as information/guidance,
the organisation of social housing and the enrolment of children
in schools. The Assembly also advocates the creation of a platform, unified
at the European level, for the provision of information and the
purchase of train tickets, a distant descendant of the Interrail
Card, which was created at the initiative of the Council of Europe.
25. Lastly, the Assembly, aware of the very important role played
by the private sector in mitigating the damage caused by the humanitarian
crisis resulting from the Russian aggression against Ukraine, and
of the role the Assembly itself will be called upon to play in the
country’s reconstruction, encourages Council of Europe member States,
in terms of information and internet society provision of services
to exploit the possibilities provided by the partnership between
the Council of Europe and the private sector in order to maintain
and promote the implementation and/or reconstruction of digital
infrastructure and related services, including a secure and open
internet that respects human rights both online and offline.