Wars have terrible consequences in the world. They cause the forced displacement of millions of people whose highest priority is to save their lives and those of their families. The United Nations estimates that since Russia invaded Ukraine, two million people have already fled their country, and it is expected that the numbers will keep increasing as the days go by.
Against this background, the European Union has activated for the first time in history the temporary protection mechanism, which was set up in the 1990s in the wake of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to deal with mass influxes of displaced people.
The mechanism allows Member States to open their doors to refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. They will be given a residence permit that will allow them to work on their own or for someone else, access education, housing, social aid and medical assistance.
The beneficiaries of this mechanism are Ukrainian nationals and people who have made Ukraine their home as well as their family members displaced by the conflict. Non-Ukrainian nationals and stateless people legally residing in Ukraine who cannot return to their country or region of origin, such as asylum seekers or beneficiaries of international protection and their family members, will also be granted protection in the EU.
People who will fall outside the scope of this mechanism are those who are legally present in Ukraine for a short-term and are able to return safely to their country of origin. However, they must be allowed access to the EU to transit prior to returning to their countries of origin.
Temporary protection will be activated for an initial period of one year. This period may be extended automatically by six monthly periods for a maximum of one year. The Commission can propose at any time to the Council to end the temporary protection, if the situation in Ukraine allows the safe and durable return of those granted temporary protection.
In order to help people fleeing Ukraine, the European Commission has launched an official information website. There, refugees can find information about how and where to apply for permits, accommodation options, etc.