Brussels, 28 March 2022
As Home Affairs Ministers meet for an extraordinary Council meeting today, the Socialists and Democrats are calling on EU governments to grant the same level of support and protection to all refugees fleeing Ukraine. With reports of Member States treating refugees fleeing Ukraine differently depending on their country of origin, socialists and democrats demand the same levels of support for all.
S&D MEPs are also calling on the Council to make a special effort to support particularly vulnerable groups, like women, children and unaccompanied minors, and put in place special protection measures, such as a Child Protection Package, to help fight the threat of human-trafficking resulting from such large numbers of people fleeing a conflict zone.
Gaby Bischoff, S&D vice-president for migration and asylum, said:
“EU Ministers need to send a strong message that everyone fleeing Ukraine is guaranteed protection in the EU. The reports of double standards in the treatment of refugees from Ukraine are appalling. Every refugee, regardless of where they come from or the colour of their skin, should receive the same dignity, respect and warm welcome, as well as the same levels of practical help and support. The S&D Group condemns any selective treatment from Member States to help only Ukrainian nationals and calls for Europe’s solidarity for a fair and equal welcome for all refugees. Solidarity must be the rule, not the exception. The Solidarity Platform, set-up by the Commission last week to support efforts to relocate refugees within the EU, is a welcome step. However, today it is clearer than ever that governments need to work with Parliament to replace quick-fixes with permanent solutions for sharing responsibility in the EU. As part of the Pact on Migration and Asylum, we are pushing for a permanent relocation mechanism so that Member States can always rely on continuous support and shared reception capacity from all corners of the EU in times of need.”
Heléne Fritzon, S&D vice-president for children’s rights, said:
“According to the UN, one child becomes a refugee in Ukraine almost every second. Both in the EU and in Ukraine, many of Ukraine’s 7.5 million children are in desperate need of security, protection, humanitarian aid and psychosocial care, and the number of children in need is growing by the day. We have already called for the Council and Commission to draw up a Child Protection Package to protect and strengthen children’s rights and make sure that children’s specific needs are met, including child protection, child-friendly spaces, education and psychosocial support. It is their right and our obligation. There is a risk of sexual violence against women and children as they try to escape war and there have already been a number of reports from NGOs of horrific cases of human trafficking taking place. It is welcome news that both the Commission and Member States agree on the need for special protection for people at risk of human traffickers, in particular for unaccompanied minors. Now we need to turn words in action and do everything possible to protect women and children against this crime.”
Source – S&D Group (via e-mail)