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For Immediate Release

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Press Release

Europe at a Turning Point: Oxfam Reaction to Temporary Protection Directive Proposal

WASHINGTON -

Today, EU migration ministers meet to discuss the Commission’s proposal to activate the temporary protection directive for people fleeing the conflict in Ukraine. If activated, the directive would allow those fleeing from Ukraine, access to a residence permit for up to three years along with access to education and employment in any EU country. 

In just one week, more than a million people have fled Ukraine into Poland, Hungary, Romania, Moldova and surrounding countries. The number is only expected to rise sharply in the following weeks.

Evelien van Roemburg, Oxfam EU Head of Office, said:

“The significance of this moment for Europe cannot be underestimated. The Commission’s proposal offers a direct lifeline to people fleeing from danger in Ukraine. It would also kick-start a solidarity mechanism that asks all EU countries to share the responsibility for hosting them.  

“The European Union has a particularly poor track record on the latter though: since 2015, the EU and its member states have consistently failed to agree on any type of mandatory responsibility-sharing mechanism. 

“It is impossible to expect Ukraine’s immediate neighbors to alone bear the responsibility of hosting over a million people now, let alone the likelihood of so many more to come. All EU member states need to chip in and take responsibility.  

“In the past years, we have seen asylum seekers’ rights being systematically ignored, a crackdown on NGO workers who are giving them aid and support, overcrowded and unsuitable camps, and often violent pushbacks. This is a reality of recent European history that we cannot see repeated. 

“We are therefore at a turning point for Europe. It is not possible to remedy the wrongs from the past, but we can do much better in the future. The EU counties must agree with this proposal ―quickly, in full, and implement it immediately. We need real responsibility-sharing across all of Europe, ensuring that people have decent and dignified conditions to live in and can rebuild their lives in safety. It also means keeping borders open to all people fleeing violence, persecution, and war regardless of the country they came from.” 

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Oxfam International is a global movement of people who are fighting inequality to end poverty and injustice. We are working across regions in about 70 countries, with thousands of partners, and allies, supporting communities to build better lives for themselves, grow resilience and protect lives and livelihoods also in times of crisis.

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