We, COFACE Families Europe, stand with the Social Platform and its members as they express their full solidarity with the people of Ukraine, their democratically elected leaders, and all those individuals and organisations providing urgent humanitarian support to the half a million refugees who have already fled, as well as the millions still inside Ukraine of all nationalities, ethnicities, races and religions whose right to refuge and asylum must be respected.
Europe’s history taught us the value of peace to social justice and human rights. It has also taught us that those in the most vulnerable situations, like the young and older people, women, people with disabilities, undocumented migrants, Roma and others from persecuted ethnic or religious backgrounds, are always the first to suffer and the last to benefit. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is not only causing a fracturing of our territorial peace in Europe, it will also fracture the daily lives of people in Ukraine, Russia and beyond.
Many of the members we represent are among those civil society organisations who are supporting families in vulnerable situations and providing vital services to Ukraine’s neighbouring countries. They show just how crucial independent civil society is to democracy, peace and solidarity, and how important not-for-profit service providers are to ensure people can access their rights and benefit from the services they offer. Legal avenues to safety and access to basic services like food, shelter and medical care must be guaranteed at all costs.
Extending the Temporary Protection Directive is vital in this dire situation. It will not only allow Ukrainians to reside in the EU legally after the usual 90-day visa-free period but will also protect those providing humanitarian assistance. The EU must make sure that all people trying to flee Ukraine are welcomed, not just those holding Ukrainian nationality, and for this the complete and non-discriminatory application of the Geneva Convention must be a priority.
We urge EU and national leaders to mobilise all EU funds and resources possible to make sure that those in Ukraine and those fleeing are protected, and that service providers and civil society organisations are able to defend human rights and provide the care and support needed