EU must prepare for millions of refugees from Ukraine, says official

By Anadolu Agency

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said on Thursday that the EU must prepare to host millions of Ukrainian refugees as Russia’s war on Ukraine continues.

“It is a dangerous situation with the developments in Ukraine, we have to prepare for millions of refugees to come to the European Union,”

Johansson told reporters ahead of the meeting of EU justice and interior ministers. She said she expected “a strong solidarity from all the member states towards the refugees but also towards the member states that are most affected.”

Johansson praised the work of local authorities and volunteers for helping the refugees after returning from her visit to Slovakia and Romania.

“This is really a moment to be proud of being European, but this is also a moment for strong decisions,” she warned.

Johansson stressed that “already almost 1 million are here” and the bloc has to provide legal status and funding to host them.

On Wednesday, the European Commission proposed to grant temporary protection to all Ukrainian refugees with a right to residence, education, work, and social welfare.

The protection status would be valid for a year, with a possibility to extend twice for another six months depending on the situation in Ukraine.

Earlier, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen announced that the bloc will provide €500 million ($554 million) humanitarian assistance to help Ukraine and refugees in neighboring countries. It’s been a week since Russia began its war Ukraine on Feb. 24.

While more than 1 million people have already fled the country, the EU has taken a range of measures against Moscow, including financial sanctions on key sectors, shutting down its airspace for Russian airlines and banning Russian state-run media outlets Sputnik and RT.