Imogen Sudbery, Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy for IRC Europe, said,

“The IRC welcomes the European Union’s move to grant Temporary Protection Status to civilians fleeing Ukraine. The decision will grant people fleeing the conflict temporary protection in Europe for up to three years, without having to apply for asylum, and with a broad set of rights including access to work, housing, social assistance and education across the EU. This is a vital step to ensure that states can manage the response effectively and people receive the swift support they need, and a welcome demonstration of solidarity with refugees.

“It is imperative that states implement this in an inclusive way, and offer protection to all people fleeing conflict in Ukraine, including asylum seekers and other people with short-term residence status in Ukraine who may be unable to return home. States must also continue to uphold access to asylum and safe passage for all seeking international protection, including anyone falling outside of the scope of the Temporary Protection Directive.

“Building on this decision, EU states must work together to mobilise a truly pan-European response. We encourage states receiving the majority of refugees from Ukraine to welcome and facilitate the support available from EU agencies, international organisations, civil society, and EU member states, to enable them to respond humanely and effectively to the rising numbers of people seeking protection. This includes boosting reception capacity and quality, bolstering asylum and integration systems and ensuring safe passage to everyone seeking safety regardless of nationality, colour or creed. It is essential to ensure sufficient support and humanitarian aid is made available for Ukraine, Moldova, Poland and other refugee-hosting EU states.

"With this decision, the EU has demonstrated that with political will, a fair, humane and effective response to forced migration is perfectly feasible. It must be a catalyst to spur long overdue reforms to ensure Europe has a longer term system in place that works for both local communities and people arriving in need of protection.”

The IRC has been responding to humanitarian crises in Europe since 2015, where we launched an emergency response to the peak in migration in Greece and relaunched operations in Serbia. Our teams provided water, health and sanitation, and psychosocial support to refugees and migrants. Since then, the IRC has also provided support to refugees and migrants in Germany from 2016, Italy from 2017, and Bosnia-Herzegovina from 2020. Last year, the IRC also started to provide integration support to refugees and their local communities in the UK. The IRC is now working with partners in Poland and Ukraine to provide essential humanitarian services to people displaced as a result of the Russian invasion.

In Poland, which is preparing to receive up to 1 million refugees, the IRC is working to scale up support to the government and civil society and to provide for the basic needs of people fleeing the conflict. The IRC is working partners in Poland and Ukraine that are quickly mobilising resources to provide critical support to civilians forced to flee their homes.