Amnesty International and 26 other humanitarian, human rights, and refugee rights organisations welcome the decision of the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union to extend the Temporary Protection Directive for refugees fleeing Ukraine for an additional year, until 4 March 2025.
This is a positive step, continuing to provide a lifeline for those displaced by the war, and offering them a chance to rebuild their lives by granting continued rights to access to essential services, including healthcare, education, and employment.
The organisations urge the EU and its Member States to work together in ensuring these rights are enjoyed in practice.
For example, a worryingly high number of children from Ukraine who have fled to neighbouring countries are not in school. In Poland, which hosts the highest number of refugees fleeing Ukraine, 56 per cent of children who had fled the country were not studying in Polish schools at the end of the last school year. In Romania, the figure is as low as 10 per cent.
“The extension of the Temporary Protection Directive today is both welcome and necessary. But it is not sufficient: ensuring all children from Ukraine are in school, that all refugees have a safe home and feel included in their host societies requires dedicated effort and sustained resourcing.” said Willy Bergogne, Director of Save the Children Europe.
The organisations also highlighted the need to establish longer-term protections for refugees fleeing Ukraine, calling upon the EU and its Member States to explore sustainable solutions that go beyond the immediate extension period.
“Refugees we speak to face any number of uncertainties, first and foremost when it will be safe to return to Ukraine. EU member states should urgently seek to remove one additional source of uncertainty – their protections in the EU at the end of the TPD extension in March 2025”, said Imogen Sudbery, IRC’s Senior Advocacy Director for Europe.
Lastly, the organisations call for the Temporary Protection Directive to be applied to all refugees fleeing Ukraine, to limit discrimination of vulnerable groups such as third-country nationals, Roma refugees, stateless persons, and people who were seeking asylum or holding international protection status in Ukraine.
The display of unity and compassion in extending protection for refugees from Ukraine is notably absent in the ongoing negotiations surrounding the Migration and Asylum Pact. The organisations call upon EU institutions to approach the Pact negotiations with the same spirit of humanity as the TPD, recognizing that refugees, regardless of their country of origin, deserve equal levels of solidarity, protection and care.