Immediate action is needed
To address these two challenges – of the inequity between asylum seekers and the growing unsustainability of the civil society-led response – immediate action is needed:
- States must comply with existing international and EU law on asylum and reception and uphold the human rights of all persons in need of protection, regardless of origin
- Governments must invest in well-resourced reception and asylum systems (as laid down in the relevant EU legislation) and take ultimate responsibility for reception conditions
- Must adequately resource private hosts, civil society organisations and local governments that play a critical role in refugee reception and inclusion
- The European Commission must enable the disbursement of EU funds to on-the-ground actors, instead of relying exclusively on national structures which often have only limited experience in refugee reception and integration
- The EU and member states must ensure regular, transparent, and meaningful exchange with civil society actors on the operational challenges of ensuring refugee reception and inclusion. This might involve the creation of new platforms, or the expansion of existing tools (e.g. the Solidarity Platform).
Through such steps, the response to refugees from Ukraine can be a success story for the EU’s aspirations as a human-rights respecting and protecting union. If Europe hopes to respond with resilience to future crises, those working at the coalface of refugee protection and inclusion but be listened to and supported.