From . – 18.01.2023 13:22 (act. 18.01.2023 13:41)
Russia’s war of aggression could trigger a second wave of refugees from Ukraine. ©APA/JUDITH EGGER
The International Center for Migration Policy (ICMPD) believes that a second wave of refugees is possible in 2023 because of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine.
“The various scenarios range from 500,000 to 4 million people,” according to the International Center for Migration Policy (ICMPD) published on Wednesday by the Vienna-based think tank, which is supported by several European countries and led by the former Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger (ÖVP). “Contingency plans must be prepared for such a high number.”
7.9 million people fled because of war in Ukraine
According to the report, 7.9 million Ukrainians have fled to Europe since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine on February 24, the experts write. 4.9 million applied for temporary or similar protection in the EU and other European countries.
Attacks on critical infrastructure, which have been taking place since October, have destroyed 50% of the power system and placed an immense burden on Ukrainian society. 18 million Ukrainians are believed to be in urgent need of humanitarian assistance within the country. “Receiving countries should anticipate scenarios of an increasing and possibly sudden influx of Ukrainian refugees in 2023.”
Prepare for the end of the necessary temporary protection
The ICMPD also predicts that Ukrainian refugees who arrived last year will increasingly enter the labor market from 2023 onwards. This requires more specific support in the areas of language training, childcare, recognition of qualifications and training in the workplace.
The regulation for fast and uncomplicated protection for Ukrainians in EU countries has been extended until March 2024. In the opinion of the ICMPD, however, governments should already be thinking about the necessary arrangements for a well-prepared exit from temporary protection.
ICMPD demands European pact for migration and asylum
At the same time, the ICMPD warns against further attempts by Russia to exploit migrants “as a means of hybrid aggression”. The agency refers to the Russian government’s corresponding announcement of flights from North Africa and the Middle East to Kaliningrad. The Russian enclave, which borders Poland, among other places, “could easily serve as a springboard for irregular movements towards the EU”. EU states should therefore review and agree to the draft EU Instrumentation Regulations, released in 2021, believes the ICMPD.
2023 also offers “the last opportunity” to conclude a pact on migration and asylum in the EU before the next European elections in 2024, the report continues. Although the EU Commission’s proposal for a common European migration and asylum system from September 2020 is controversial, the work must be finalized in 2023 or at least some of its legislative proposals must be agreed, advises the ICMPD. Hopes are pinned on the special EU summit in February, namely whether it will bring a final breakthrough.
Existing visa regulations must be reviewed
The ICMPD generally points out that by 2023 reviewing existing visa regulations will be “top of the agenda”. In addition to asylum seekers from countries ravaged by war and conflict, in 2022 people from nationalities with very little chance of a positive decision on their applications “enjoyed visa-free or facilitated entry into EU member states or neighboring countries”. In this context, Serbia mentions that the visa waiver for Indians and Tunisians has been suspended in 2022.
The rising cost of living and food insecurity continue to play an important role. A factor in controlling irregular migratory flows in 2023 will therefore also be the support of the countries of the Global North to the countries most affected by the increase in food prices. There are opportunities to increase food production and make the agricultural sector more resilient.
The year 2023 could also show a development in terms of legal migration. Due to the growing need for workers, European governments have increased their efforts to actively recruit workers from home countries. Comprehensive migration and mobility partnerships were completed. For example, Austria made an agreement with India. “In 2023 it will be interesting to see how much these agreements increase in number and how quickly they are put into practice,” he said.