Generosity is no longer enough. After opening its doors to refugees, Europe now needs to better organize the distribution of those fleeing Ukraine. Not least because there is an urgent need to relieve as soon as possible those countries which for the last month have been shouldering the impact of millions of people who need everything: food, clothes, a place to stay, and medical and psychological assistance.
Tomasz Szatowski, Warsaw’s ambassador to NATO, said it clearly on Thursday. Poland has taken in two million refugees so far, but the country is now close to the breaking point: “We will not reject anybody who is threatened by war and who comes to find safe shelter,” but if this “continues at the same pace for weeks to come, this will create challenges for the country,” warned the diplomat.
It’s a problem that concerns not only Poland, but also Moldova, with 100,000 refugees for a population of two million inhabitants, Romania, with more than 300,000 refugees, and Germany, where the number of Ukrainians fluctuates between 200,000 and 300,000. The numbers for Italy are lower: until Thursday evening, the number of registered arrivals stood at 67,885. It is no coincidence that Mario Draghi stressed that handling such a multitude of people cannot concern Europe alone: the premier, on the sidelines of the three summits – NATO, G7 and the European Council – held in Brussels, said that it was a “humanitarian drama” that must be addressed at the global level, at the UN.
The issue was also addressed in the G7 of Interior Ministers, which was held on Thursday, and will be on the table for the summit of Interior Ministers of the EU27 scheduled for Monday. It must be mentioned that over the last few days there has been a drop in the number of arrivals, but this is probably only due to the greater difficulties encountered by those fleeing to reach the borders of the Union. During the G7, the Canadian minister announced that he had already received 30,000 requests for entry.
Canada offers a residence permit valid for three years with the possibility of making it permanent and favorable conditions for family reunification. Japan has also expressed its willingness to accept immigrants, although no numbers have been provided, while the British Home Secretary, Priti Patel, spoke of 30,000 Ukrainians already in the country, with the expectation of reaching 100,000. The United States is willing to accept up to 100,000 people. Regarding Italy, Minister Lamorgese explained that out of the 70,000 arrivals, “90% are women and minors, and we have a very small number of them, below 5,000, because many have turned to Ukrainian relatives or friends.”
These numbers, however large, are still entirely insufficient to cope with the biggest crisis since the end of the Second World War. For this reason, at the JHA summit on Monday, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will present a map of reception in the Union that should serve to better distribute people among member states. The Commissioner said that her service had created an index to see how many Ukrainian refugees are still in each state.
The number would then be compared with the asylum requests received by the same states last year and with their size in order to understand which of them are in the greatest difficulty today. In the meantime, Germany has announced an airlift on Friday for the transfer of Ukrainians who are in Moldova.
Then there is the question of economic aid. On Friday, the European Council gave the green light to the Commission’s proposal to allocate a further €3.5 billion to the countries most involved in reception.