OSCE countries must learn lessons from care and treatment of Ukraine’s refugees, says parliamentary migration committee head

200622 Polish Ukrainian borderKristian Vigenin (left) with an OSCE PA delegation visiting the Polish-Ukrainian border in MarchCOPENHAGEN, 20 June 2022 – On World Refugee Day, the Chair of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, Vice-President Kristian Vigenin (MP, Bulgaria), commended countries across the OSCE region for their swift and generous responses to the unprecedented displacement crisis stemming from the war in Ukraine. At the same time, he urged OSCE participating States to propose more sustainable solutions and to pay particular attention to mitigating the risk of trafficking in human beings as well as meeting the special needs of refugees with disabilities and other vulnerabilities.

“The OSCE region reacted swiftly and with open arms to the mass displacement triggered by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February,” Vigenin said. “For the first time, the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive was activated, enabling refugees fleeing from Ukraine to EU Member States to promptly access safety, accommodation, employment, social and health services. One area which warrants special focus is the needs of refugees with disabilities, as there is a lack not only of specialized accommodation but also of specialized staff and services; this is often due to a weakness in this area for nationals of the country itself.”

Vigenin highlighted the positive benefits of a flexible approach, such as that applied by many OSCE countries when addressing the lack of valid official identity documents due to the circumstances in which people had fled. He welcomed the inclusiveness in the scope of application of the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive or similar national protection schemes by some countries who have extended measures also to non-EU citizens with legal residence in Ukraine who are also stranded. Allowing onwards movement of refugees and relocations has contributed to reducing pressure on frontline countries and enabled refugees to draw upon the support of family and friends, he noted.

With the war entering its fifth month, Vigenin emphasized the need to move beyond short-term ad hoc solutions and called for concentrating efforts into devising longer-term solutions, notably in terms of providing sustainable accommodation and employment options as well as access to education, while continuing to meet the immediate needs of new arrivals.

In April, the OSCE PA’s Migration Committee carried out a short survey of measures implemented by OSCE participating States to welcome refugees from Ukraine. It plans to continue its work in this area with the aim to share lessons learned. Vigenin encouraged OSCE participating States to apply the successful practices developed in this context to asylum procedures more generally in order to enhance refugee and migration management in the region as a whole.

“In response to this terrible crisis, States across the OSCE region have put into place effective, and at times novel, ways of dealing with mass refugee arrivals,” he said. “One promising area is that of the digitalization of refugee management, but we must step up efforts to mitigate the risks of trafficking in human beings and other forms of sexual exploitation in mass refugee flows.”

The OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Migration was established in 2016 with the mandate to serve as a focal point for the OSCE PA’s work in the field of migration in all three dimensions of the OSCE. For more on its activities, please click here.

For an overview of the OSCE PA’s action on Ukraine, please click here



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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