Today a delegation of Socialists and Democrats led by its president, Iratxe García, travelled to the Hungarian region of Lónya, bordering Ukraine. S&D MEPs met with NGOs, including the Red Cross, to express their support and urgently demand more EU action.
According to UN figures, more than one million people have already left Ukraine, and the influx will only increase in the coming days. The S&D Group urges the Council to agree to trigger the Temporary Protection Directive.
S&D leader Iratxe García said from Lónya:
“Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Romania cannot be left alone. A decision in the Council today would demonstrate the EU’s shared commitment to solidarity. These borders are also the EU’s external borders and we must act in solidarity to help the Ukrainian people and those living in Ukraine since the invasion. I am grateful to the local authorities and the citizens who are opening their doors to those in need and we will insist on getting more help as soon as possible.
“So many of these local authorities and opposition leaders have been coping for years with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his dangerous friendship with Vladimir Putin. It is now crystal clear that authoritarianism is a risk for peace and for prosperity. This is a turning point for Hungarian politics. It’s time for Orbán to turn his back on Putin and contribute to a united effort for peace, freedom and democracy.
“But now is the time to focus on the emergency and make sure refugees are properly looked after with access to basic services like housing and healthcare, among others. Protection needs to be as broad as possible, embracing the Commission’s proposals this week, so that anyone fleeing Ukraine receives equal treatment, equal rights and equal access to support. Local authorities cannot cope on their own. It is heart-breaking to see so many families, many of them elderly people, women and children, having to leave behind their loved ones and livelihoods to escape Putin’s relentless aggression. We will never forget the tireless efforts of the volunteers and charitable organisations.
Gaby Bischoff MEP, S&D vice-president, said:
“But EU support doesn’t end at the border. We need to turn words of solidarity into action, through a reliable and structured system to relocate refugees from countries bordering Ukraine to the rest of the EU. Solidarity in action means putting in place protection measures that grant all refugees temporary asylum and basic rights like healthcare, housing and education. The refugees from Ukraine have already been through enough over the last week and shouldn’t have to face discrimination as well.
We urge the Council to reach an agreement to use the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time and EU governments must agree on the details and come forward with generous pledges to shelter families torn apart by war.”