Eurodiaconia released our report today on the reception and integration of refugees from Ukraine highlighting the perspective of non-profit social service providers. The report was released at an event hosted today at the Eurodiaconia office highlighting our members’ work to assist in the integration of refugees from Ukraine, the challenges the face, and lessons learned for broader migration policy.
The report is based on the extensive field experience of our members – non-profit social service providers who are key actors in providing access to social services, education, housing and the labour market of refugees and migrants, and since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, beneficiaries of temporary protection.
The ability to swiftly access employment, social benefits, and other social rights through the Temporary Protection Directive (TDP) has been a resounding success. However, our members have noticed an uneven implementation among different Member States, which directly impacts the enjoyment of rights of displaced Ukrainians. Additionally, our members highlighted the lack of a long-term approach required to meet the needs of displaced Ukrainians. The continuation of the war in Ukraine evidences the need of long-term sustainable accommodation and social housing, which has been a problem even before the war. Likewise, it is necessary to develop long-term assistance to access employment, with specific measures in place to increase quality childcare services and tackle barriers such as language and qualification recognition. Access to psychological support for both refugees and staff and volunteers working with refugees is another crucial need emphasised by our members.
Eurodiaconia members also expressed concern about the dangerous precedent that the two-tiered approach towards beneficiaries of temporary protection and other refugees has established, which they say has effectively created different tiers of human and social rights. They suggest that the positive developments associated with the TPD should be taken forward to broader EU asylum policy, such as the entitlement to access social benefits, education, access to the labour market, healthcare, and free movement.
Although EU Member States have shown admirable strength in their humanitarian response, a strong long-term policy response to integration and sustainable funding for service providers are still needed. For our members who have long expressed the need for stronger investment in social protection, including integration services, recent crises including the COVID pandemic and the influx of refugees from Ukraine only prove that these services need investment and political priority far before crisis inevitably strikes.
Based on our findings and consultation conducted with our members, we include concrete recommendations for both EU and national policymakers to achieve a harmonised application of the TPD, bring forward the lessons learned from to broader asylum and migration policy, and provide transparent, accessible and socially oriented funding.