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How the War in Ukraine Affects the EU Migration Situation

Ukraine faces major safety threats as it was attacked by Russia, its neighbor, after months of deploying military camps near its shared border.

This conflict is expected to have serious consequences not only for the Ukrainian population and Russian invaders but also for member states in Europe, which have warned that they will proceed with severe sanctions against Russia, reports.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has already declared a state of emergency – urging its citizens in Russia to leave immediately and to impose compulsory military service on all men of combat age.

We know for sure that we don’t need war. Not a cold war, not a hot war. Not a hybrid. But if we were attacked before [enemy] Troops, if they try to take our country away from us, our freedom, our lives, the lives of our children, we will defend ourselves. Do not attack, but defend ourselves. “When you attack us, you will see our faces, not our backs, but ours,” President Zelensky stated.

Ukraine suspends civilian flights in response to the situation

Ukraine closed all civilian flights, and suspended air traffic services. In addition, its neighboring country, Moldova, has closed its airspace, while Belarus has said that civilian flights will not be allowed in certain parts of its territory.

“The presence and potential use of a wide range of land and air warfare systems poses a significant risk to civilian flights operating at all altitudes and flight levels,” the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said, also noting that the airspace of Russia and Belarus is far away. 100 nautical miles from their border is in danger.

>> More European airlines cancel flights to Ukraine as tensions escalate

In addition, EU member states also ordered their airlines to avoid airspace over Ukraine and Crimea and also called on their citizens to refrain from traveling to Ukraine.

EU member states such as the Netherlands, Norway, France, Switzerland, Ireland and Latvia have announced their advice not to travel to the conflict zone since early February.

EU member states expect enhanced migration flows from Ukraine and regional instability

A large number of immigrants is expected to arrive in the 27-nation bloc from Ukraine, which will increase the migration wave experienced by the member states of the European Union.

Earlier, Poland’s Interior Minister, Maciej Wocik, revealed that his country is ready to accommodate one million refugees from Ukraine, while other countries neighboring Ukraine such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia indicated that they are also preparing to receive the incoming refugees.

Poland is home to thousands of Ukrainians – 130,000 of them, who have lived in the country since 2015 when Russian forces invaded Crimea, the land in southern Ukraine. In the same year, Poland saw a five percent increase in the number of applications for long-term residence from Ukrainians.

According to United Nations (UN) data, the country is one of the top ten with the highest levels of immigration, which is still on the rise. It is believed that about five to eight million Ukrainians have left the country in pursuit of better living standards in the past few years.

In addition, the same source reveals that the number of Ukrainian immigrants in the USA, Canada, Western and Central Europe and Australia increased from 0.7 to 1.6 million, and their share in the total number of Ukrainians who moved abroad increased from 13 per cent to 27 per cent.

With the exception of Russia, the leading country in the number of Ukrainian immigrants – mostly related to the political situation, the United States (377,000) and Kazakhstan (346,000) had the largest number of immigrants from the country in 2017.

On the other hand, Central European countries also received thousands of Ukrainian immigrants in the same year, as the data shows that 262 thousand immigrants were accepted in Germany, followed by 236 thousand in Italy and 209 thousand in Poland.

Europe has been teeming with migrants since 2015

The migration of people leaving their countries of origin due to safety concerns caused a migration crisis for EU member states in 2015 and almost another last year, as Afghan nationals fled their country after it was taken over by Taliban forces.

According to data from Frontex, the European Union’s border and coast agency, the number of refugees and migrants entering the European Union rose from 200,000 in 2014 to more than a million in 2015, with the majority of migrants arriving in the region by sea.

The latest data from the European Union Asylum Agency (EUAA) shows that the number of applicants for international protection in the EU has reached 617,800 – far less than it was in 2015, but much more than it was in 2020 when 461,272 applications were submitted. .

These developments have led to an increase in immigration in the European Union, with the EUAA revealing that Afghan nationals filed the most international protection applications in 2021 – 97,800 of those. Together with Syrians, who have also left their homeland due to political conflict, they account for more than a third of all asylum applications submitted in the European Union for 2021.

Moreover, refugees from the Middle East were embroiled in another inconvenience that occurred in 2021 with the Belarus authorities. More specifically, the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, was accused of allowing groups of immigrants to enter the country and later pushing them towards the Polish border.

This situation has led the Polish authorities, as well as those in Lithuania, to deploy more border controls and even build walls to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

The economic and tourism crisis in the European Union is deepening

Although the 27-nation bloc is actively dealing with the harmful social and economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the union can expect another blow from the conflict in Ukraine due to the sanctions that the EU Commission has vowed to impose on Russia.

According to Vice President Josef Borrell, the authority will impose the most severe sanctions on Russia. Other EU representatives denounced the attack, estimating that it “targets the European Union’s model of a democratic society” and cannot go unanswered.

These are among the darkest hours for Europe since World War II. A major nuclear power has attacked a neighboring country and threatens to retaliate against any other country that might save it,” VP Borell stated.

Sanctions could include cutting gas supplies to the EU from Russia, which makes up 40 percent of natural gas and about 25 percent of oil – used to make textiles across the 27-nation bloc.

In addition, the tourism industry, which was just beginning to show signs of recovery, will be affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Ukrainians constitute one of the largest market sources for tourism in Poland.

Moreover, the Global Data Demand and Tourism Flows database reveals that Ukraine was experiencing a marked boom in inbound tourism during the first five years of the pre-pandemic period (2014-2019), peaking at 2.5 million visitors in 2019. This number decreased by 2.5 million visitors in 2019. 71 percent in 2020, when the pandemic began and the travel and tourism sectors silenced.

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