The EU home affairs ministers on Thursday unanimously supported the activation of a directive that introduces temporary protection of Ukrainian refugees on the territory of the European Union.
“Member states unanimously accepted the proposal, and the directive has been activated. The European Union has maintained unity and sent a very clear humanitarian message, a clear message of understanding of the suffering the Ukrainian people are going through,” Croatian Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic said after the meeting of EU home affairs ministers.
He said that now the decision had been made, the text needed to be consolidated and translated into all official languages, after which it could be applied.
The 2001 Temporary Protection Directive was adopted in 2001 but has not been used yet. Activating it makes it possible for displaced persons from a particular country to get a residence permit for the entire duration of the protection (which can last from one year to three years),, work permit, social care, healthcare and education without applying for asylum.
Under the directive, all nationals of Ukraine and persons residing in Ukraine, as well as their family members, will be entitled to protection in the entire European Union.
Non-Ukrainian third country nationals or stateless persons who have been legally residing in Ukraine and are unable to return to their country of origin, such as asylum seekers and those under international protection and members of their families will also be entitled to protection in the European Union.
Temporary protection will initially be granted for one year, and then it can be extended by six monthly periods to up to three years.
Bozinovic said that, to date, over a million people had entered the EU territory from Ukraine and that the number would unfortunately grow given the Russian army’s indiscriminate attacks on cities.
To date, Croatia has received over 850 refugees from Ukraine, and only about 50 of them are in organised accommodation, while other are staying with someone or have been invited by someone.
“There are people who went to the Ukrainian border by themselves and brought to their homes people from Ukraine they had or hadn’t known. This isn’t just solidarity between member countries, but also between European citizens and that’s something we have to appreciate,” said Bozinovic.