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On 23 March European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published a short report on the situation at the EU-Ukraine borders: ‘EU-Ukrainian border check points: First field observations’’, preceded by the FRA staff field visits in the first half of March. The document summarises observations made at Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and Romanian borders and is focused especially on procedures at border crossing points and registration/reception centres. It also contains information about the next steps to be taken.
According to the Agency, the key risks for fundamental rights at the EU borders with Ukraine are: high danger of human trafficking, concerns about discrimination and racism, overreliance on volunteers. The FRA staff did not observe any discriminatory or racist acts, but the Agency stresses that it is aware of many allegations in this matter reported in the media and that those cases should be investigated. Another risk is the high danger of human trafficking. As many individuals offer transportation, work and accommodation, FRA advises the authorities to inform the refugees in simple language about the risk of trafficking. The Agency also points out that long-term solutions should be provided to support volunteers as in some locations, assistance is provided mostly by volunteers and local authorities.
Majority of refugees want to go back to Ukraine as soon as possible. However, as their return may not be possible in the near future, according to the report, EU countries should pay attention to long term planning, including extensive relocations across the EU, integration measures and adoption of new policies regarding family reunification. As almost all people arriving in the EU countries are vulnerable or very vulnerable, these measures will need to consider the impact of psychological trauma, the specific needs of children, the particular challenges faced by and needs of women, prevention and monitoring to avoid labour exploitation etc.
FRA highlights the overwhelming support provided to people fleeing from Ukraine and the kindness of officials and volunteers assisting the refugees. The Agency declared itself ready to support the EU Member States in respecting and protecting fundamental rights.
The full text of the FRA report is available here.