Refugees from Ukraine: what prospects in Europe?
More than 7.5 million people have left Ukraine since the Russian invasion began. In the EU they are entitled to temporary protection for at least a year, with the right to a residence permit, work and housing, medical care and education for their children. Europe's press discusses the challenges on the path to successful integration.
A mutual process
Polityka on the complexity of social inclusion:
“Many Poles have welcomed Ukrainians into their homes, which facilitates integration. What's more, Ukrainians are looking for their own place to live as some of them have found work quickly and it's easy for them to learn Polish, which isn't all that different from their own language. ... Nevertheless, integrating foreigners from a similar cultural background can also be difficult. ... Successful integration means developing a joint plan for living together in society. ... It presupposes the willingness of the majority of the population to accept the newcomers, as well the immigrants' willingness to respect the rules of the host country and make an effort to integrate.”
Unacceptable bureaucracy jungle
Refugees from Ukraine face considerable bureaucratic hurdles, Helsingin Sanomat complains:
“Thousands of Ukrainians who fled to Finland months ago still haven't received a personal identification number. That makes it difficult for them to find a job or a place to live, for example. This situation is unacceptable. People are shunted from one counter to another, which would be frustrating for ordinary Finns, never mind Ukrainians who don't speak the language of our authorities. ... The design of the information systems is to blame for the problems, so the explanation goes. ... Moreover, many sectors in Finland are suffering from labour shortages. It's crazy when people who are willing to work can't find a job.”
Europe needs to prepare
Sociologist António Barreto calls in Público for an open debate on migration and integration in view of the influx of refugees into Europe:
“Governments and societies, both Portuguese and European, have an obligation to reflect and debate in advance, to prepare for major changes. ... An open-door policy that allows illegality, exploitation, social conflicts and racial conflicts to continue unabated is unacceptable. A closed-door policy is unacceptable because it runs counter to the country's needs and violates the humanistic values of taking in refugees. A policy of uncontrolled immigration that puts everyone in danger, whether resident or immigrant, national or foreigner, is untenable.”
Keep a close eye on local politicians
The population must be vigilant, Český rozhlas warns:
“Whether the wave of empathy and support for the Ukrainian refugees will continue depends to a large extent on how the government handles the issue of deeper integration. ... What caused resentment and fear in the case of refugees from the far Middle East must not be repeated now that we are experiencing the horrors of war on our doorstep. ... But we need to watch closely how candidates in municipal and local elections position themselves on Ukrainian refugees and their integration. The success of this integration depends to a large extent on them.”