According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, there will probably be no flow of refugees from Ukraine to the EU in winter. Another relocation within the country is possible.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) predicts an increase in the number of internal displacements due to Russia’s ongoing war of aggression, rather than a massive influx of refugees towards EU countries.
“The most likely scenario is further displacement within Ukraine,” UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said in an interview with “Spiegel” published on Sunday. “Hopefully there won’t be another major refugee movement.” At the same time, “But war is unpredictable.”
More help for refugees?
He worries that those who are still able to flee abroad will likely need more support. “So far, those who have stayed in Ukraine either had less connections in Europe or were less mobile,” Grandi told Der Spiegel.
He was confident that EU countries would be able to receive additional refugees from Ukraine if necessary.
“Unlike spring, this time more public accommodation will be needed and funds will be needed for this,” said Grandi, who is waiting for the winter. For this reason, he demanded financial support to countries that would have to carry a particularly heavy load, such as Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russia attacks infrastructure
Given the winter weather and continued Russian attacks on the country’s civil infrastructure – particularly electricity and heat supply facilities – there have been repeated fears that more Ukrainians may now flee to the EU.
To this end, the German Ambassador to London, Miguel Berger, made a statement on Sunday. “We are very concerned about this because these attacks on energy infrastructure mean that many people may be forced to leave Ukraine in the freezing cold.” The diplomat also told British TV channel Sky News: “We expect a new wave of refugees in the coming weeks.”
UNHCR: The biggest escape in years
According to UNHCR, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the end of February led to the largest displacement of people in decades. At the beginning of November alone, nearly 14 million people have been driven from their homes since the start of the war, Grandi said. According to UNHCR, about eight million have sought protection abroad, of which one million are in Germany.
UNHCR chief Grandi openly praised “Europe’s current sustainable hospitality policy” for Ukrainian refugees. They have direct access to social systems and are allowed to work.
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