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15th Apr 2024

EU: Ukrainians hesitating to register for protection

  • Medyka crossing point on the Polish Ukraine border (Photo: Nikolaj Nielsen)
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A large number of Ukrainian refugees are hesitating to register for EU protection, says the European Commission.

Speaking to European lawmakers on Thursday (12 May), senior commission official Beate Gminder said that many of those hesitations are based on false assumptions.

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Some think they cannot register once their 90 day visa-free entry into the EU expires. Others believe they cannot return to the EU and still obtain the benefits of protection if they go to Ukraine after registration.

Both instances are incorrect, she said.

"Let's be very clear, even if the 90 days are over, people still enjoy temporary protection here. They're not illegally in the EU," she said.

Gminder said others also don't register because they return to Ukraine within their 90 day visa free-entry into the EU.

Over five million Ukrainians have fled into the EU since the war started just two-and-a-half months ago, in late February. Of those, around 2.7 million have registered for temporary protection as of 8 May throughout the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland.

A breakdown of those figures by member states has yet to be centralised.

The European Commission says it does not have them. And the Malta-based European Union Agency for Asylum (EUAA) says it cannot issue the figures.

"We are working on changing this as we are very aware that there is a lot of interest," an EUAA spokesperson said last week.

On Wednesday, its director Nina Gregori in a tweet said 19,000 Ukrainians had registered in Romania. She also noted Greece had registered 11,000.

Earlier this year Hungary was accused of making misleading statements on its figures.

Although over half a million had arrived by late March, only 7,749 had registered for protection in the country at that time, according to findings by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a human rights NGO.

Around 1.6 million have also returned to the country since the start of the war, as of 9 May.

Gminder said around a third of those return because they want to reunite with their families back home, including elderly parents or husbands who were not allowed to leave.

Another one-third returned because they believe it is safe in their region. The remainder, or 40 percent, go back and forth to Ukraine and an EU member state, she said.

Ukrainian nationals have also lodged about 20,300 applications for international protection in the EU since the start of the war.

UN: 10 million fled Ukraine since war began

The escalation of the war in Ukraine has forced more than 10 million people from Ukraine to cross the border into neighbouring countries since late February, the UN reported.

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