The bloc has taken in nearly 10 million people fleeing hostilities, Commissioner Thierry Breton has said
FILE PHOTO. © AP Photo/Markus Schreiber
The EU migration crisis is a challenge that should be handled not by a single European country or region, but by the entire bloc as it deals with millions of asylum seekers, particularly from Ukraine, Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market, has said.
Speaking to Sud Radio on Monday, the official suggested that migration – which has recently been on the rise, especially in Italy – “affects us all,” including southern and eastern countries. “We have welcomed … almost 10 million Ukrainian refugees,” he said, adding that the Czech Republic stands out in terms of the number of people it has hosted.
“Four percent of its population – 440,000 Ukrainian migrants for a population of 9 million people. Could you imagine that?” he said, noting that Hungary and Poland have also played a major role in providing shelter to Ukrainians fleeing from hostilities in their home country.
In early March 2022, shortly after the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev, the EU for the first time in its history invoked the Temporary Protection Directive, which can be used only in exceptional circumstances to deal with a “mass influx of refugees.”
The legislation guarantees Ukrainians access to accommodation, welfare, and healthcare and gives them the right to enter the labor market, and enroll children in educational institutions.
In terms of absolute numbers, Russia accommodates the most Ukrainian refugees (1.27 million), followed by Germany (1.09 million), and Poland (968,000), according to Statista.
Breton’s comments come as some 7,000 migrants swarmed the small Italian island of Lampedusa last week, which itself has a population of less than 7,000 people. Local mayor Filippo Mannino said that the crisis had reached a “point of no return,” while the UN Refugee Agency described the situation as “critical,” adding that moving people off the island was “an absolute priority.”
According to official data, more than 127,000 refugees have arrived in Italy as of September this year, double the number for the same period in 2022.