The European Union voted unanimously on Friday to introduce a broad range of legal protections for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine – an announcement that follows accusations of racial discrimination against refugees of color by EU officials. UN and human rights activists.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at the time of writing, more than 1.2 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of the country. sovereign nation on February 24. Of these, more than 600,000 had fled to Poland and nearly 150,000 had sought refuge in Hungary.
The EU statement noted that the Temporary Protection Mechanism adopted this week would streamline the asylum application process, granting refugees the right to live, work, study and receive medical care anywhere. ‘European Union. The measures were adopted initially for one year, but can be extended, the statement said.
But in recent days, advocacy groups and international organizations have sounded the alarm over the difficulties faced by people of color trying to cross the border, by both Ukrainian and European authorities.
“We acknowledge the support given to Africans and people of African descent seeking safety in neighboring countries, including by organizations or people of African descent. However, there have been numerous reports of officials preventing international students of African descent and their dependents from crossing the Ukrainian border. Several individual and media reports indicate regulation of Ukrainian trains, buses, as well as the borders themselves, to deny or delay freedom of movement for people of African descent until all white migrants and asylum seekers asylum have been accommodated. Others pointed to ongoing moves to force people of African descent out of queues fleeing armed conflict,” UN officials warned on Thursday.
“Other reports indicate the racialized denial of entry to people of African descent in some neighboring countries. Even when allowed to enter third countries, people of African descent have reported restrictions, including visas issued for two weeks or less,” the officials said.
The African Union has also expressed concern, saying in a statement on Monday: “Reports that Africans face unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be outrageously racist and in breach of international law. In this regard, the Presidents urge all countries to respect international law and to show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war, regardless of their racial identity.”
By adopting the temporary protection measure, the European Union made it clear that the measure would apply to both Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians. “Ukrainian nationals, as well as third-country nationals or stateless persons benefiting from international protection in Ukraine and their family members will benefit from temporary protection if they resided in Ukraine before or on February 24, 2022. third-country nationals residing in Ukraine before or on 24 February with a permanent residence permit and who cannot safely return to their country, Member States must apply either for temporary protection or for adequate protection under their legislation national level,” the EU statement said.
Noting this development, Human Rights Watch on Friday urged EU officials to “make it clear to the Ukrainian authorities that all non-Ukrainian nationals, including those without valid travel documents, have access to EU territories either for temporary protection or for humanitarian reasons, including for safe passage or repatriation to their country of origin.
Before the unanimous EU vote, in the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western powers acted with surprising cohesion to impose unprecedented severe penalties, supply military equipment to the beleaguered forces of Ukraine and closes airspace to Russia jets.
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) vote to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Russian military operations in Ukraine and affirming Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Out of 193 member states, 141 voted in favor of the resolution, 35 abstained and five – Russia, along with Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria – voted against. The UN Security Council had convened the UNGA meeting using a special mechanism that had not been used for 40 years given the gravity of the situation in Ukraine.