A million. This is the number of Ukrainians who, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, have already fled their country following the Russian military invasion launched on Thursday 24 February. As Putin’s forces continue their offensive, that number could climb even further in the coming weeks.
In order to deal with this massive influx, the European Ministers of the Interior met this Thursday, March 3, in Brussels. They agreed on the establishment of “temporary protection”, granted to Ukrainians fleeing the conflict and to immigrants in a regular situation in the country. But what are we talking about?
What is temporary protection?
Temporary protection stems from a European directive adopted on July 20, 2001. It is up to the Council of the European Union to authorize it. It is defined as a exceptional and temporary device “. ” This protection is granted to a group, as a whole, fleeing a conflict explains Yves Pascouau, migration specialist and senior associate researcher at the Jacques Delors Institute. ” The objective is to avoid clogging up the asylum systems when it is automatically known that these people will meet the criteria for protection. »
Since its creation, the directive has never been applied. At the time, it was a reaction to the wars in Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, which caused a massive influx of refugees at the gates of Europe. ” Western countries already had such protection, but the idea was to harmonize, on a European scale, a common system in the event of new crises occurring. “, continues Ekrame Boubtane, economist and specialist in issues related to international migration.
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Concretely, a Ukrainian who goes to a European country will be able to benefit from a one-year residence permit, renewable for two more years, as well as a work permit. He will also have access to the health and education systems and will be able to receive a financial allowance to help him find housing and meet his needs. The specialist explains that the temporary protection “ specifies the minimum reception conditions but each country has the right to do better, depending on the specific arrangements they have “.
How is it different from the right to asylum?
The major difference between this European system and refugee status lies in the administrative process. Without temporary protection granted to a defined human group, a person fleeing the war, like the Syrians in 2011, must apply for asylum in the prefecture. When he obtains confirmation of the registration of his application, he will receive a certificate from the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) for one month, renewable.
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While the public administration decides whether or not he is eligible for asylum, the refugee benefits from the right to stay on the territory. As such, he can be accommodated in specific reception centres, receive the asylum seeker’s allowance (Ada) and access to care. On the other hand, for a period of 6 months, he does not have the right to work.
If the OFPRA accepts the asylum application, two distinct systems can be applied, but whatever they are, the same social rights apply. The distinction lies in the length of stay. ” The most favorable in terms of long-term integration is that of refugee “says the specialist in issues related to international migration. It is granted to people persecuted in their country on the basis of their identity or their actions for freedom. The definition comes from the Geneva Convention of 1951. A refugee obtains a residence card for 10 years, with access to the labor market. ” Refugees are destined to become permanent immigrants “Slips Ekrame Boubtane.
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Those who do not qualify for refugee status but face the risk of the death penalty, torture or the threat of armed conflict can obtain subsidiary protection. They will receive a residence permit for 4 years. ” Their situation is less sustainablesays the economist. Once this period of time has elapsed, if the situation in the country of origin has improved, the person may be invited, or forced, to return there. Otherwise, they can apply for a new residence permit. »