More than 1.7 million people have fled Ukraine so far, and the United Nations expects more than 4 million others will leave the country and need protection and assistance in the coming months. Those fleeing to neighboring countries, mostly women and children, have been met with an impressive voluntary and government mobilization to answer immediate needs.
Similarly, European Union (EU) policymakers are organizing an unprecedented response, unanimously approving the first-ever activation of the Temporary Protection Directive that will provide immediate protection and rights, reduce pressures on national asylum systems, and enhance responsibility sharing. Questions remain, however, about how the directive will work in practice and how quickly it will be rolled out, in particular as European asylum agencies and migration authorities face a range of operational issues for the first time. They will need to set up a new process to register people, but also organize which agencies (including EU ones) and which funding mechanisms will be tapped to ensure adequate reception and emergency assistance.
In the medium term, populations fleeing Ukraine will need access to affordable housing, education, the labor market, and health care. How can European countries with tight housing markets and overburdened health-care systems, yet simultaneously pressing labor shortages, plan for the more medium- and long-term needs of those displaced by the war? And how can Ukrainian diasporas be mobilized effectively in the response without being overburdened with untenable demands?
This MPI Europe webinar features expert views from the European Commission's Asylum Unit Head Esther Pozo-Vera, Alexander Sorel from the European Union Agency for Asylum, Sophie Magennis from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Representation for EU Affairs, and MPI Europe's Hanne Beirens and Jasmijn Slootjes. They offered information and key facts on the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive, prospects for the integration of displaced populations, and lessons from the 2015-2016 refugee crisis that could apply in the current context.