Extending protection for Ukrainians in Europe is “crucial”, according to a number of Irish and international civil society groups, who have signed a joint statement calling for the temporary protection directive (TPD) to be extended until 2025.
The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD) on March 4th 2022, initially for a period of one year, and later extended until March 2024, was “an unprecedented, prompt and efficient response to the displacement of millions of people fleeing the war in Ukraine,” the statement said.
The Irish Refugee Council, Nasc and Doras, are among the Irish civil society groups to have joined a call on the European Commission to prepare a proposal for the extension of the TPD until March 2025 “as a matter of urgency”.
“In light of the ongoing war and the related uncertainty experienced by current Temporary Protection status holders, measures should be taken to extend their legal status to the full three years afforded by the TPD,” the group statement said.
The TPD provided a legal basis for the protection of almost five million Ukrainians across Europe, and has been “a success” as it ensured “immediate access to legal status and associated rights, allowing collective management of the situation under the EU’s auspices, without the usual political conflicts and paralysis”.
Over a year in to the war, Ukrainians are questioning “what their medium-term future holds”, Fiona Hurley, chief executive of Nasc said.
“Given the ongoing conflict and the scale of destructions of cities, towns and villages, they are likely to be in Ireland until 2025 at least. Nasc have seen an increase in calls to our Ukrainian language helpline asking for information on the international protection process from people who are concerned about whether their status will be renewed in 2024,” she said.
More recently, Nasc have also fielded inquiries from people “wondering whether they should invest in paying third level fees for a three to four year course if they don’t have a guarantee that they will be permitted to remain here for the duration of their studies”.
“We need to move away from the emergency response and look at multiyear planning,” Ms Hurley said.
The joint statement from civil society groups said an extension of the time frame for TPD would provide “increased security for those displaced from Ukraine” and would “buy time for countries to put in place provisions for medium term support”, whether that is “voluntary return if circumstances allow, or continued protection outside Ukraine if they do not”.
An extension would also “help avoid a situation where Member States under pressure resort to forcible return or other coercive and restrictive measures”. It would support access to rights and services including residence permits, long-term housing, employment and education, the group said.
Among the list of other signatories on the statement include the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the Greek Council for Refugees (GC), Human Rights Watch, and Save the Children.