Okay, let's go ahead and get started. Hello!
Welcome to our panel discussion on "Refugees
and the War in Ukraine". My name is David
Scott FitzGerald. I co-direct the Center
for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San
Diego and we're co-hosting today's event together
with our colleagues at the UCLA Center for the
Study of International Migration, the UCLA
Center for European and Russian Studies, and the
International Institute at UC San Diego. Following
the February 24th Russian invasion of Ukraine,
around 12 percent of the population has fled the
country. The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, reports
that as of yesterday, more than 5.4 million
refugees have left, including 3 million who are in
Poland alone. Six countries have received 350,000
or more, including Romania, Russia, Hungary,
Moldova, and Slovakia. The Biden administration
has recently announced that it will accept 100,000
Ukrainian refugees and has opened a new private
sponsorship channel to do so. There's an even
larger number of people, an estimated 7.7 million,
who have been internally displaced within
Ukraine. The UNHCR estimates that even more,
or unable to leave because of the conflict. These
dynamics come on top of other displacements caused
by the war in Donbas since 2014, and the movements
of asylum seekers and other migrants from Asia
and Africa, who intended to transit Ukraine,
many of whom stayed long-term as Ukraine
itself became a host country. Our panelists,
who are here to help us understand these
dynamics, are professor Marta Pachocka, Head of
the Migration Policies Research Unit at the Center
of Migration Research of the University of Warsaw;
professor Marta Bivand Erdal, Co-director of the
Peace Research Institute in Oslo; Martin Rozumek,
Executive Director of the Organization for Aid
to Refugees in Prague; professor Raphi Rechitsky
from National University and an expert on
experiences and policies of forced migration
within, to, and through Ukraine; and professor
Rana Khoury currently at Princeton and soon
taking a faculty position in political science at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
A special thanks to our colleagues in Europe, who
have given up their Friday night to join us live.
The order of activities today is that each
panelist will take five minutes to make an opening
remark about a particular aspect of the situation.
I'll then pose a set of questions to the whole
panel, and then for most of the event, that'll
be devoted to a Q&A with everyone on the call,
including the panelists and the audience.
During that open discussion period,
please electronically raise your hand and you'll
be unmuted to ask a question, or you can use the
Q&A function at the bottom of your screen
and I'll pose that question to a panelist.
So, let me start by inviting Marta Pachocka
to make her opening remark. Please!
Thank you very much for this invitation.
Hello, everyone! It's my pleasure to join
for the very first time one of your webinars.
So, very briefly: What is the current state of
play in Poland regarding the crisis going on
in Ukraine? The first point is, I would say
that we have two different crises going on.
One is the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,
and another one is the refugee crisis going on
in Poland. As we know from the data provided
by the UNHCR on a daily basis, so far Poland
received almost 3 million people fleeing Ukraine.
Intentionally I say people or forced migrants
from Ukraine, because these are not only Ukrainian
citizens. We assume that 95% of those that are
coming to Poland are Ukrainian nationals. Poland
is considered by the UNHCR the primary country in
terms of receiving forced migrants from Ukraine.
What is interesting, and if we compare
it to the developments in Europe in 2015,
the issue is about the very large scale of
forced migrants that came to Poland within
If we look at the developments and numbers from 2015
in Europe during the so-called migration refugee
crisis connected to the Mediterranean region,
that time it was 1 million within one year and not
only to one country. These were mostly Italy and
Greece, as you remember. So, very large-scale
influx of people. Then Poland is not a typical
destination country for forced migrants.
So, the question was: How can our country,
how can Poland address this challenge? And the
reaction was very positive. I would say that we
are, as researchers but also as Poles, surprised
how positively, how openly the society reacted,
and to what extent it provided support. So, maybe
going directly to the actors that played a key
role in receiving forced migrants during the first
two months as of now. I have to stress that the
key role was played by our non-governmental
organizations and by civil society.
Also, they were supported by local governments
from border towns, so the towns that are close to
the Polish-Ukrainian border, including Przemyśl
and Lublin, and also big cities, including our
capital Warsaw. Then we should also mention, and
it was stressed very often by media and also by
our politicians, our volunteers – simply every
Polish citizen, but also the Ukrainian diaspora.
We have to remember that Ukrainian
migration is not a new phenomenon in Poland.
Before the crisis of February 2022, we've
received many, let's say economic migrants,
voluntary migrants from Ukraine. So, the
number of these Ukrainians from pre-2020
is estimated at 1.35 million people.
Some researchers stressed that this
phenomenon of high inflow of
economic Ukrainian migrants to Poland
before 2022 is a kind of Ukrainization of
labor migration to Poland. I just said about
NGOs, local governments, volunteers, and
then the government. So, the government
played a crucial role two weeks later, because
the politicians provided a new legal framework
to receive migrants. Simply, the new law was
announced on March 12th - the law providing support
to Ukrainian migrants. The point is that this
law is very selective, so it addresses the needs
and access to public services of
only Ukrainian citizens and their
families. So, it might be an interesting
issue for you to discuss later. And finally,
we should remember about a huge support
provided by the international organizations.
We have the UNHCR office in Poland - very active.
The so-called Regional Refugee Response Plan was
launched. At the beginning, the assumption was
that it will be implemented by August. As of now,
we know that it will be implemented at least by
the end of December 2022. Another important actor,
obviously, is the European Union, because we,
I mean Poland, we are one of the 27 EU Member States.
So, we are also covered by the EU asylum policy,
and EU legal framework regarding international
protection. What is the state of play as of today?
We have moved from this short-term emergency
humanitarian period, and we are in fact now in
the reception phase, that may take up to one
year and a half. Because this is the time that
our government provides a legal status, legal
stay for Ukrainian refugees according to this new
law I've just mentioned. And finally, we should
take into account another international actor, IOM.
But IOM is mostly involved in the support to
third country nationals other than Ukrainians. So,
the first two weeks were important in these terms,
because there were also for example non-Ukrainian
students leaving Eastern part of Ukraine. They
moved to Poland, and then they were supposed to
return to their countries of origin - many of
them from Africa. I think I will stop here and I
will give the floor to my colleagues. Thank you!
Thanks very much. Marta Bivand Erdal.
Thanks very much, and thanks for having me.
I'll also keep this quite brief. David asked
me to speak a bit about the response in European
countries beyond those that are neighboring to
Ukraine. I think it will tag nicely onto what
Marta already said. So, I thought I should just
start with some of the context. I'm sure most
of you know that the EU has decided to have this
temporary protection scheme, which they actually
regulated already in 2001, but they never used it.
So, on March 4th, there was this unprecedented
move to actually use this protection system,
and I'm sure we can discuss later why
now, why not before, and these kinds of
questions. And it was sort of unprecedented,
the way it went about on a systemic level,
because of course, migration and asylum are
extremely contested within the EU as a political
issue. And the specific political context here of
the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and its proximity
to EU countries is sort of, it's everywhere. And I
think I want to stress that also in this context,
because I'm sure you all know this, but the
proximity of these things within Europe are
something, which I think just can't be stressed
enough, especially if you're looking at this maybe
from a North American or an Asian context,
where it's just much further away. So that's
the systemic level. Now, that's all interesting
and good, and in principle that's great.
Ukrainians who were already in EU countries, or
who arrived after February 24th, and indeed also
residents of Ukraine who exited Ukraine and
entered into EU countries after that point in
time, were then supposed to have a fast track to
protection similar to asylum, but not through the
regular asylum route. Now, the reason why not
is mixed. One reason is, of course, the sort of
proximity to the war, and the political backdrop
of that as much already underscored. Just this
unprecedented scale. And again, I think this is
important to stress, although I know we know this,
all of us that are on this call. But if you
look at the numbers of arrivals, not just
in 2015 or 2016 within Europe, you know across
the 10 last years in terms of asylum seekers,
what has happened within the last two
months are just much higher numbers.
So, I think this sort of scale and
proximity just cannot be stressed
enough in this context. Now, the EU regulations.
I think one of the interesting things about this
protection mechanism is that, I think many
people working in this field agree that this
actually would be a good idea overall in terms
of how we relate to people seeking asylum,
because what the system means is that you
have a fast track, where you don't put people
basically in waiting centers, where they have to
wait for months, years sometimes, and basically
become completely passive. But instead you allow
people to have residence permits and to work.
And it's a temporary protection. In European
context, we've had this before in relation to the
wars in the Balkans. And sometimes that protection
becomes permanent, sometimes it doesn't.
And I think that's also important to stress in
this context, that it is a temporary protection
mechanism, and what will happen down the line,
none of us knows. But that's also the context
of it. Which is the reason why it can be
fast-track in a way. If it was permanent,
politically that wouldn't be possible. So I think
it's an interesting question – how this will
affect the way we deal with these issues in Europe
later. Because this approach solves many of the
huge problems we've had with the current asylum
system here in Europe, which is, I think, as most
of us know, incredibly flawed on very many levels.
I'm not going to go into numbers deliberately, and
I think some of our colleagues later on will come
into numbers a little bit more, as well. I'll say
a couple of things in relation to why I'm not
really wanting to say anything about numbers.
The numbers are incredibly uncertain. Some of
you already mentioned some numbers in terms
of border crossings into Poland, and also
into Romania, or Hungary, or other countries
neighboring Ukraine. We don't know
how many people are going back.
We don't know how many of these
crossings are multiple border crossings.
Because Ukrainians, who initially had biometric
passports, and later on anyone, could move freely
between the EU countries, and also
into the EEA. We don't actually
quite know who's where. And we do know that there
are a lot of people in Germany. Germany is also
close to Poland. There were also many Ukrainians
there from before. We know there are quite a few
also in Italy. Again, there was a diaspora there
before. We know there are quite a few in Spain.
Turkey has many, as well. Interestingly, Norway
has been preparing for a lot of refugees to
arrive. They don't seem to be arriving. So,
there's kind of a capacity to receive people,
but there seems to be perhaps a desire
to remain rather closer to Ukraine,
because there is this hope of peace. And I'll
actually end on this broader comment, that we
might want to come back to in the discussion
later on. I think what is interesting from this
sort of not neighboring country perspective, is
that what is happening with the mobilities out of
the war in Ukraine, is in fact, I think, very
similar to what we see in many other conflict
contexts around the world. But this is now in
Europe and we're not used to that in Europe.
So, the EU, and the European states, and also
populations to an extent, are behaving as if
this was kind of something we know. And we don't.
This is like being Lebanon, or like being Jordan,
or like being Turkey in relation to Syria, or like
being Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran for many years.
And hopefully this situation will be resolved much
faster than that, but I think that just sort of
flips completely how we relate to the issue.
And I think it does something to how we can try
and understand it, as well.
I think I will end there. Hopefully,
we can come back to some of these issues in the
discussion. Thanks! Thanks very much! Martin.
Good afternoon! Thank you for
inviting me to this event.
I represent the Organization for Aid to Refugees,
shortly OPU, and we celebrated the 30th anniversary of
our work last year. Basically, we started with the
war in Bosnia, when the Czech Republic received
returned, one third of them integrated in the
Czech Republic, one third was reunited with
family members in other EU Member States.
Since that time, we never had large numbers of
refugees. After we entered the European Union,
we never had more than 2,000 asylum seekers
coming to the Czech Republic annually.
So, for us the arrival of 300,000
Ukrainian refugees in less than two months
is something very extraordinary and it requires a
lot of new recipes and policies to be established,
because we are a rather small country.
Out of it, 700,000 are foreigners, or immigrants
in the Czech Republic, and less than 2,000 annual
asylum seekers. On the other hand, Ukrainians belong
to the largest national group in the Czech Republic.
Before the war, there was a minority of 200,000
Ukrainians in the Czech Republic – mainly
labor migrants. So, I was pretty sure that
the Czech Republic would become one of the
final destination countries. It is not the Syria
scenario, because the Syrian community is almost
zero in the Czech Republic. So, it was pretty sure
that they would not come and stay for a long time.
With Ukrainians, it's a different story.
We expect that out of these 300,000, probably
would be our task to help them integrate quickly.
Our organization immediately on February 27th
opened a hotel for Ukrainian refugees of 250 beds.
It was full in two days. Then we started an
operation in cooperation with the city of Prague
in the main train station, and the main bus
station. So, on average we received 6,000
refugees in the Prague train station daily, which
is incredible for us, because usually we know
every single asylum seeker personally.
With these 2,000, we are present in all
refugee camps and five cities, so this
is something very demanding for us.
The temporary protection - I think it's a good
tool. It was activated for the first time in
Europe's history, and what worries
me is the uncertainty of what will
come after the temporary protection scheme
is over, because the Czech authorities
are not willing or able to say whether Ukrainians
would be able to stay or not after the temporary
protection scheme is over. In fact, it would be a
huge opportunity for the Czech Republic, because
we have had the lowest unemployment in the
EU for the last five years. So basically,
there is zero unemployment in Prague. Everyone,
who wants to work, finds a job easily. And the
salaries, of course, are not high, but basically
we need everybody. I think we could be grateful
that 300 mainly young persons, because we are
talking about 80% mothers with smaller children,
so I think it's also an opportunity for the
Czech society and for the Czech government.
The temporary protection scheme allows immediate
access to the labor market, immediate access to
the full-scale health insurance, so we see
people coming with very difficult diagnoses.
I must say that people coming now are in worse
shape than the people coming at the beginning.
We see a big demand for psychological health,
because the people fleeing the war need this
care very urgently. We always lack the capacity
in this specialized care. So, I think that will be
the main challenge. Where to find enough doctors?
Where to find pediatrists? Where to find teachers?
Czech language teachers? It will be a
big challenge for the whole society,
but I think we will manage. Thank you!
Thank you, Martin. Raphi Rechitsky.
Hello! Thank you again for having me
– this is a wonderful event – and for
David and CCIS organizing it. It's great to
be here. I wanted to begin by acknowledging,
as has already been said, not just
the scale and proximity of this crisis
to Europe, but also the speed. You know, we're
witnessing a very fast-growing refugee crisis,
possibly the fastest one since World War II,
I think. I'd be difficult to rely on many of the
data that are coming out on flows, as has already
been said actually by some of my colleagues,
within the EU. But besides the very understudied,
you know David mentioned 13 million who are
immobilized and mobilized within Ukraine. But
if we were to think about just those who are
internally displaced and are able to move,
they're in addition to the 7, I think 7.5
million as of last week. I'm happy to talk about
this later. There are also 4 million people who
have departed Ukraine. And I think 4.5 million,
if we consider that about 600,000 that have
supposedly returned according to Ukrainian
government data. But regardless the scale
of the crisis and its speed, it is fundamental to
understanding before we engage in any discussions
and some of the current hot button questions
about the legal, social, political complexities,
that could explain why refugees from Ukraine
versus refugees from other countries to Europe
have been perhaps or perhaps not treated
differently. So, we can look at current
debates about Danish refugee admissions, or the US
Title 42 at the US-Mexico border and it's assumed
possible demise. But my goal is not to
entertain some of these debates themselves,
but rather I want to begin
by observing that the concern
for justifying or problematizing the equity
between Ukrainian refugees and the other refugees,
both from the left and the right, from rights
groups, and politicians, and Europe assumes
that there's a supposed division between refugees
from Ukraine and refugees from other countries.
But this assumption, even though it is very true as my
colleague who spoke first mentioned, the rate that
it's still important to understand this because
the assumption takes for granted that in a world
fraught with many conflicts and a withering
refugee regime, that people move around, force
migrants move around and settle many times
in different countries. Also for a second reason,
I think non-Ukrainian refugees, it is important
to understand those who flee Ukraine. Also
because we assume that refugees can be divided
into kind of primordial ethnic categories, or
primordial national categories - those from
Ukraine, or those from outside Ukraine, those
who are ethnically Ukrainian or not - without
observing and understanding the multicultural
legacies, and even current realities of
Ukrainian society. So first of all, as kind of
a disclaimer, we should still mention that many
Ukrainian refugees speak Russian, even though
they speak Ukrainian. And if we were to take
seriously this idea – that Ukraine is a Ukraine
from post-colonial lines with respect to Russia,
we should not justify Ukrainians
being excluded from various social,
informal benefits, as I've heard reported
from the ground from different NGOs.
For instance translators being hired by German
welfare agency that discriminated against
Ukrainians, who can't speak perfect Ukrainian.
So, excluding Russian-dominant Ukrainians only
plays into Putin's kind of ethnic imperialism
that's used to legitimate this war. But outside
of that important issue, what I really want to
bring to light, is a further, broader issue of
that 5% Marta mentioned, the right of refugees,
and why that's important to consider. Because
they really are the most vulnerable, most of them
are excluded from temporary protection status.
I want to turn our attention to their
reception and really begin to think about it
in light of the history of the reception
of refugees in Ukraine. These are people,
perhaps least likely not just to be displaced
internally within Ukraine, but also least likely
to return to Ukraine perhaps from abroad.
We're talking about, in terms of numbers,
there's only 2,200 recognized refugees in
Ukraine from 63 countries. But there are also
tens of thousands of asylum seekers. There's been
between 1,100 and 2,300 or so asylum seekers
in Ukraine every single year between 1996 and
the war, as estimated by UNHCR partner in Ukraine.
This is all on top of, we can take educated guess of
much larger populations of international students,
that grew on top of, and then
during and after independence over
two decades of Soviet worker and student exchange
programs. There's many private universities and
public universities in Ukraine that attract tens
of thousands of engineering, medical, and other
students from Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa,
as well as Southeast Asia. So, when we're
talking about these various figures, on one hand
international students, labor migrants, we should
also not forget refugees are also part of those
flows, and asylum seekers are a part of those
flows. And it's important to think about this
also. You might have seen images of a young boy,
who was in the early days of the war, highly
circulating the press. He's walking to the Polish
border alone, he's crying, he has a small backpack
on, and you can see other press taking pictures of
him. And he was touted in the press as a Ukrainian
boy, but he is a Syrian boy. He is a Syrian boy,
who grew up in Ukraine and whose
parents had supposedly perished
in Syria, and who had spent as an orphan in
Ukraine with perhaps some distant relatives.
We underappreciate just how significant some of
these early flows are for non-Ukrainian refugees.
I can later tell you a little bit more about where
these refugees are in discussion, that I try to
keep in touch with on daily and weekly basis. But
I want to go back for a minute to 2012 and 2015,
when I spent 15 months in Ukraine studying refugee
reception, interviewing refugees, international,
state and civil society groups.
So, there's importance to telling you
a little bit more about how some refugees, who
had intended to stay in Europe, often arrive in
Ukraine. And they often end up settling in Ukraine
even though their intention is to go to the EU.
Many, about more than half of the refugees
I spoke with, end up settling in Ukraine
and making lives there, even though their
intention had been to go on to the EU. But
refugees themselves don't have a say in their
own fate. And at least not in the constraints of
the international refugee regime, right?
They're part of the local integration program.
There was a lot of international funding that was
supported by the EU for a UN program in Ukraine,
for the local integration of refugees that I've
argued, and some of my work kind of pertains to,
a soft remote control. As David refers to remote
control in his work, I kind of talk about this
as a soft remote control, as humanitarian kind
of incentives, as we've seen in Turkey, on a much
smaller scale in Ukraine. But I think this is also
relevant for what we end up seeing in Ukraine down
the road with internal displacement actually.
And I can talk about that a little bit more.
I wanted to spend the introduction by saying
that the crisis with Ukrainian refugees presents
an opportunity, since many of whom are stuck in countries
like Moldova, [inaudible] present an opportunity to support and rethink
the international refugee regime, both
support and rethink, right? And how we treat [inaudible]
the secondary destinations in Europe today,
as well as how the international refugee
regime shares responsibility across Europe
and the world both for Ukrainian refugees,
and how they are seen. Because many of these
refugees, many of the most vulnerable refugees,
who are in Europe right now, who came from
Ukraine, don't have access to temporary
protection. And so we need to make sure they are
also, if not centered, a part of the conversation.
Thank you for that set of
issues, Raphi. Rana Khoury.
Thank you! Thank you so much to the organizers
for putting together this impressive panel.
I should say when David first reached out
and invited me, besides my initial sort
of pleasant surprise of him being in my inbox,
I said: But are you sure this is intended for me?
Because this is a panel about Ukraine. So I'm here
to give some perspective in comparison with my
area of expertise on the Syrian refugee crisis and
And so please feel free in the
discussion to tell me where I've gotten
some of these similarities and differences,
that I'm going to try to point out, wrong.
So, as soon as the Ukrainian conflict began and
refugees began fleeing, many people in the media
were crying out, or on Twitter, about the
selective empathy, and the double standards
at this site of Europeans being just so very
receptive to people fleeing conflict. And this
apparent difference was not just a difference from
Denmark was pushing Syrians to return, when Poland
and Bulgaria were jockeying over people in their
borderlands, who were freezing in the forest. And
people calling this out, pointing to the role of
race and producing such different receptions,
also religion. And of course, in addition we
can argue about how much these different factors
are shaping reception. But of course there's also
politics. There's geographic proximity. These
same dynamics matter in the Global South, where
countries that host most of the world's refugees,
geopolitics and proximity also play significant
roles in shaping refugee reception in the Global
South. And those similarities are notable,
given that those countries in the Global
South enjoy far less capacity to host
large numbers of people. So, I want to talk
briefly about some of what I see. What I
see is some of the similarities in the Syrian
refugee crisis and Ukrainian crisis, because
maybe just through the passage of time, some of us
can forget some of these dynamics. So first, with
Syria and the conflict in that
country - nobody expected it.
Syria was a refugee host state. So, despite that
some ideas that conflict is endemic to the
Middle East and North Africa, or MENA,
Syria was considered a very stable country.
As well, people didn't think it would last
long. When I first went to the field to do
my research in Jordan, the Syrians I
encountered told me again and again:
We thought we would be coming for
a few weeks, a few months at most.
Syrian refugees, there are 5.7 million
of them in neighboring countries, and
about half of the country's pre-war population.
These numbers are really quite similar to the 5.4
million Ukrainian refugees and the 7.5 million
internally displaced in Ukraine. There's nearly
which is quite similar to Turkey, where there's
countries can come out as really hosting a
very large number of people, who have fled,
although of course the Polish population is
smaller in size than the Turkish population.
But here especially, we see the role of empathy of
the geopolitical variety. There's rivalries with
the state responsible for causing the displacement
in both the Turkish and Polish cases. There were
also periods of sympathy for Syrians in Europe.
In September 2015, the tragedy of Alan Kurdi,
whose body washed ashore, Austria and Germany were
prompted to open their borders. We remember images
of Justin Trudeau in Canada meeting Syrians at the
airport. So there was some sympathy for some times,
and I am wary of putting all of
Europe together as being sort of
blocking so much migration. Germany suspended the
Dublin procedure for Syrians. By the end of 2018,
there were 1.8 million people with a refugee
background in Turkey, the majority of whom were
Syrians. As well from Syrians' perspective,
Syrians are voicing far more empathy with
Ukrainians than they are resentment at the double
standards, not just for shared experiences with
displacement, but also in their views, the
cause of that displacement, as they see Russia
as an aggressor in the Syrian conflict, as well.
Now, I want to turn to some of the differences.
As has already been pointed out by the presenters
is the pace. Syrians were relatively slower
to displace. Their displacement only began its
significant numbers in 2013, which was nearly a
year and a half into the violence. And it took
them about three years to reach the similar
numbers as Ukrainians that I pointed to at the
start. While Syrians were slower to displace,
Europeans were slow to act despite that ample
lead-up time to respond to the emerging crisis.
Ukrainians, as we've heard, were quick to
displace, and Europeans have been quick to act.
They've been acting collectively, giving
Ukrainians the temporary protective status
that we've heard about, they've been
cooperating as the European Union,
and their cooperation is producing different
outcomes. In the Syrian case, that cooperation
within the EU was in striking deals, for instance
with Turkey, to keep Syrians from crossing.
Another difference is the danger. In 2015, more
than 3,500 lives were lost in a journey to Europe.
The routes got more dangerous as more obstacles
were erected. In March 2016, Slovenia, Croatia,
Serbia, Macedonia closed their borders within
even the EU, and the Balkan route to Germany
became tighter. I think it's an open question as
to whether the mixed migration is different. Often
in 2015 in the European crisis we hear that it was
a mixed migration, that there were people who were
coming for all sorts of reason and not just as
refugees, but 75% of those arriving in Europe,
in fact, were from Syria, Afghanistan, and
Iraq. These were conflict-wrecked countries.
I think the politics, whether it's different, is
to be determined insofar as the rise of the right
wing in Europe, that has followed the migration
crisis. I think we don't know the answer to that,
because that took time. We don't know what
European reception for Ukrainian refugees
will look like in one year, in two years, in three
years and four. So, the big takeaways for me are:
While we do see this greater sympathy of
European reception for Ukrainians, we also see
quite a different sympathy with regards to the
war itself. There is an investment in the war in
Ukraine in a way that there is not an investment
in the conflicts in these other countries,
rather than just sympathy for the externalities
of those wars. And of course the pace, which is
strikingly different. We see here clearly
that displacement is endogenous to borders.
It is endogenous to reception. The drivers of
displacement are not just in the conflict country,
but in the options for people to flee it. Thank you.
Thanks very much, Rana. So, let me start by posing
a couple of questions about reception and taking
up Rana's issue that she raised, about the future
of reception, to her colleagues on the call
who are based in Europe. As of last month,
again just according to the UNHCR, 90% of Ukrainian
refugees were women and children. And how is that
low percentage of men shaping refugee experiences,
public perceptions, as well as policy responses?
And then relatedly, are there any signs suggesting
whether this initial welcome will be sustained?
Should you indicate who is going to answer or can
we just go ahead and jump in? Go ahead and jump in.
Okay, perfect! Thank you very much. I also
took notes when my colleagues were discussing
their points of view. In fact, my feedback is
directly to your questions, but I would also like
to refer to some points that were raised by
other speakers. In terms of the structure
of the refugee population that is coming to
Poland, it's true that women in productive age and
kids prevail. Most of them are really kids, not
even teenagers. So, the question is if it helps to
receive them in Poland. For sure. Because this
is natural – when we have this picture of family,
lonely women, kids, we have this feeling that we
should support them. But it's not the only point.
As I've mentioned before, Ukrainian migrants,
both males and females, are not a new group
of foreigners for Polish people, because we
know many. We have many Ukrainian colleagues
in our work. We have many Ukrainian students
at the public and private universities
and we are simply familiar with Ukrainians.
So for us, I say here on behalf of the society,
it's much easier to accept them. The question is
– and we already see it – how, even if they have
the full access to all the public services, they
can be matched for example with the labor market?
Because as in the case of the Czech Republic,
and Martin mentioned it also, in case of Poland,
the unemployment rates for the national economy
but also for local labor markets, are very low.
And for us, it is rather very
easy to absorb a huge number
of newcomers to the labor market, but there is the
issue of structural gap. So, we are rather in need
of male workers, not female workers. So far,
we see this discrepancy. Another issue is
that there are linguistic skills that are
very often necessary to work in Poland.
So, here comes the question of language
training, language courses in Polish here for
newcomers, and there is a lot done in this
domain by non-governmental organizations,
and also by for example some universities offering
free of charge Polish courses. Then obviously,
the issue of taking care of kids. So, according
to the Polish law, and this is something positive,
any child between the age of six to eighteen has
to join a public education system, so it covers
primary and secondary education. High education
is excluded. Even with an EU temporary protection,
or our specific Polish temporary protection
for Ukrainians, any kid is allowed, even should
be enrolled in schools. But it does not
concern all of them, because once again
comes the issue of the language. So,
many mothers are supposed to stay
at home with their kids to take care of them. This
is the issue of labor market. This is the issue of
kids, of language. Then when we are discussing the
issue of perception, what really matters is also
the narrative or discourse that is launched by
the government. This time, in comparison to 2015,
there is no negative, hostile discourse launched
by the government. And as we know, since 2015
it is the Law and Justice Party that has
the power. And in 2015, 2016, even 2017,
the political and public media discourses
regarding migration were very hostile.
It was also reflected for example in our
unwillingness to implement the two-year
temporary relocation scheme for asylum seekers
from Greece and Italy, even if we were forced
to do this, because it was strongly rooted in
the EU primary law and then followed by two
Council decisions. So, we see this difference
in the narratives. The narrative is not even neutral.
It's rather positive. So even
today, I just found the new
stance by President Volodymyr Zelensky
saying how Andrzej Duda, our president,
is a great friend of him, because he, I mean the president,
provides great support to the Ukrainian society,
and to the Ukrainian politicians. So, we see this
big shift. It might be explained by different
reasons. Maybe because if this is about the
elections that will come in the following months,
so maybe it's about the political capital. But
maybe it's also about the geopolitical context,
and our own interests, so security and safety
of Poland. It was also mentioned by, I think by
Raphi. The issue where we are located, and
the fact with whom we have borders. Just to
draw a short picture of the geographical
context of Poland on the map of Europe,
in the East, we have only one short part of
Eastern EU border with another EU country. Simply,
there is Schengen Zone with Lithuania, but then
we have a long border with three non-EU Member
States, so third countries. This is Russia, Oblast
Kaliningrad, then this is the border with Belarus,
and we know that Belarus is strongly influenced
in political and socio-economic terms from
Russia, and then comes the Ukrainian
border. Simply, it's in our vital interest
not to have such a long border, being
at the same time an Eastern EU border
with a country like Russia, that should
be considered as a country that is very
unstable these days and very unpredictable.
I think that this political and safety related
issues also matter a lot to narrative
that is launched by our government. Also,
you mentioned, Rana, the issue of double standard and
selective empathy. I have to say that we have this
in Poland nowadays. I assume that you've heard
what is going on, or what has been going on
since September 2021 on another part of Polish
border with Belarus. We have double standards.
We are open and friendly and very supportive to
Ukrainian refugees, but at the same time, we are
still rather hostile to those that are trying to
cross, even if illegally, our border with Belarus.
Obviously, the migrants coming from this direction
are mostly from Middle East. And even they are
not allowed to submit that asylum claim for
regular proceedings, for a refugee status.
So this is also about this double standard and
selective empathy. I think I will stop here.
Anyone else? Yes, Martin.
Thank you for the question. I would like to
react to David's remark and Rana's words.
It certainly plays a role that in vast majority
women with small children came to the Czech
Republic. The level of solidarity is incredible.
I would never expect that from the Czech society.
The positive role of politicians is very
important, and as with Syrians, all the
politicians were very much against. Now, there are
no politicians who would question this level of
solidarity and who would play against Ukrainian
refugees now, which is a very important thing.
To react on Rana's words, I see three big
differences if we compare the Syrian situation
and the Ukrainian situation. First of all, with
Ukrainians, it's much easier because we all
know them, we have lived with Ukrainians for 20
years, my children are at schools with Ukrainian
classmates, we have Ukrainian friends, so there
is no fear of unknown as it was with Syrians.
And this is a big advantage for
Ukrainians. Then another important thing is
that they are not coming illegally as Syrians.
I think the international refugee law is
constructed in a way that you have a right to
refugee status, but you don't have a right to
select a country, where you would like to go.
So basically, you should stay in the neighboring
country and that country should accept you and
give you the rights according to the 1951
Geneva Convention. So this discourse that
Syrian refugees are illegal migrants, because they
did not have this legal way to come. This is very
different with Ukrainians, because they have the
visa-free regime and basically they can choose
any EU country they want to come and
stay, which is much easier for them,
and also much easier for the society to accept
that they are not illegal migrants like the
Syrians were labeled, which I didn't like at all, but that was
the case in the Czech media and in the Czech political life.
Then, I would also say that there is a difference
in a sense that unfortunately, Syrians came
during the time that there was this wave of
terrorist attacks in Europe committed by Muslims,
and Syrians were considered a dangerous group
that could pose a risk to the Czech society,
or to the societies in Europe, which was totally
unjust. I didn't like it at all, but that was the
discourse – that basically, terrorists are coming
with the group of illegal migrants from Syria
to Europe. As Rana, I see a lot of similarities
and I think the crises are very similar,
but I think these three differences make a big
difference in the reception of Syrians and during
the reception of Ukrainians. Thank you. David, can
I just jump in briefly? Thanks. I'll also try and
respond to your question, but I also wanted
to respond to a couple of things that
my colleagues on the panel mentioned. It's
especially the issue that Raphi was mentioning –
with refugees displaced again, and again, and
again. Especially we know that there were Afghans,
who were quite well integrated in Ukraine before,
which doesn't mean there was no racism in Ukraine.
There happens to be racism in pretty much every
society around the world, including in Ukraine.
But still that was their home, and many
of them have been there for a long time.
And so it really is a question of sort of global
protection issues. And I think that's important
also because of what Rana was mentioning in
terms of the similarities and differences. I've
also been trying to sort of grapple with: What is
it that is similar and different? And I would say
I pretty much agree with everything you said.
I think one of the things that I find really constitutes
a key difference is that the crisis in 2015-2016
was a border crisis, a border management crisis.
There was a humanitarian crisis at the border
to the EU, and as Marta was also mentioning,
that border crisis is still there. And we
have deaths in the Mediterranean ongoing
pretty much on a daily basis. And we have
this situation on the Poland-Belarus border.
So the EU borders are deadly, and that's the sort
of crisis there, whereas the crisis with refugees
from Ukraine is the war and the brutal invasion of
Ukraine. And so that doesn't justify any racism,
obviously. And it doesn't justify the incredible
inequalities, and mobility rights people around
the world have, which directly affect which
opportunities for protection they have.
But it does shed light on the difference in what
is going on and how and why European states are
responding differently to it. Because one
situation is within the EU borders de facto,
which is the neighboring countries except for
Moldova are EU members. And the rest is outside
of EU borders, which means it's third countries.
And they're beyond these deadly borders. I think
it's a very sort of banal point, but I think it's
also really important to understand, because it
really explains some of these crucial differences
in treatment, which is just incredibly unfair.
Just briefly on the population composition. I
think it's the same in pretty much all countries
because these are the people that are leaving
Ukraine. So, women and children.
I think there's two reflections. One from
the Norwegian context where, as I mentioned,
there's very few that actually have arrived. And
among those that have arrived, relatively few,
more or less half, have registered so far. They're
being asked to register in order to get the rights
that they have through these protection mechanisms
that are there. But the reception system isn't
geared up to receive them, even though there's so
few that come to a country like Norway. And this
is the case for other countries as well that are
further afield from the neighboring countries.
So, there seems to be sort of crisis of reception,
even though compared to not just Poland,
but compared to the Czech Republic as well,
there's just so few, a fraction, that is arriving.
And there is this sort of sense of not knowing
quite how to deal with it in terms of schools,
and kindergartens, and these kinds of things
as well, which compared to what is going on in
Poland, or the Czech Republic, or other countries
that are receiving many more people, seems quite
absurd. I'm mentioning this because maybe it's
hard to spot that looking at this from the US,
but there are huge differences within Europe,
and how Europe is sort of collaborating on this.
I think the jury's still out. I'm really curious
what will happen, if the war is not resolved
and people can't return. How will actually the
other European countries be supporting Poland
especially, but also the other neighboring
countries, and also the Czech Republic and Germany,
who may be other countries, who have the most
refugees? There's money involved. There's talks
of all kinds of compensations and things. But how
will that European solidarity actually work?
I think we still are in an unknown territory.
And it is this huge question of uncertainty
in terms of time frame, that I think is sort of
omnipresent when we're discussing these things.
Thank you! I'd like to pick up on what you
said about return and invite anyone on the
panel to weigh in on what do we know about how
people who have left Ukraine are thinking about
whether or not to return? How are they making
those difficult decisions? Obviously, the nature
of the battlefield and the war is also highly
dynamic. What can you tell us about that? Anyone?
If I may jump in very quickly with some
numbers, because just a few days ago,
we were discussing it with directors of the
Warsaw higher education institutions. We are,
as we know, we are still missing the good,
reliable, and comprehensive data on any aspect
of the crisis. But obviously, very often we
rely on the data that are provided by UNHCR
in this case, or by the EU. I have just
in my hands, I think still the most recent,
results from April 19th by the UNHCR.
The research was on movement of Ukrainians back
into Ukraine from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary,
Romania, and Moldova. So, we see that in recent
weeks, so let's say that from early April, the
rate, or the absolute numbers of Ukrainians
coming back to Ukraine, is slowly increasing
especially in case of Poland. But does it mean
that this is a long-term return? Or rather
this is what is typical for Ukrainian migrants
in Poland at least? Circular migration.
Another explanation might be the fact that
last week, I think, was the week of Orthodox
Easter, so many people wanted to reunite with
their family members, with their husbands, with
their brothers, that have to stay in Ukraine
because of the mobilization. Simply, males aged
the respondents were asked what are the reasons
for their return. So, 32 percent stated that
it's about how they perceive their safety
in area of return. Simply, we know
that Russian soldiers are moved
closer to Eastern part of Ukraine,
so Donetsk and Luhansk, so it might be the
reason. But it does not mean that there are no
aggressions still going on in for example the
central part of Ukraine, or Western one. 31 percent
stated reunite with family, as I said,
and 20 percent that this is about something
temporary to be fixed, like shopping, bringing
family, or just visit the family members. So even
my students - at Warsaw School of Economics, my
first university, we have many Ukrainian students,
and female students mostly - now, they decided to
get back to the country just for two-three weeks,
because of the Orthodox Easter, but also to
try to convince for example their mothers and
grandparents to join them in Poland. We see that
there are many people that do not want to leave
their country. So, my feeling is that this war just
enforces or makes the Ukrainian identity stronger.
Even now, we assume that from the Ukrainian
forced migrants we host as of now in Poland,
so more or less 1.5 million - these
are our estimations, out of these
three million that crossed the border - we
think that many of them, if the war is fixed,
they will return, because they want
to, because this is something to prove
Ukrainian statehood and
Ukrainian identity as a nation.
This is in terms of return. We see them
rather temporary, rather circular mobility,
and we do not know what the future will bring,
because it really depends on the developments in
terms of war. Marta, that is all very helpful on
the survey. I'd love to see what the results were.
I was going to add that I think we can learn a lot
from the war before the war, from the Ukrainian
displacement from Luhansk and Donetsk occupied by
Russian separatists in the last eight years, and
the patterns of those displacements both within
and beyond Ukraine. If we just look internally
within Ukraine in light of some
of the motivations why
Ukrainians today might take a trip back,
or come back to move, or to return, we can
look back at the situation during the war. And
if you can look at even UNHCR, there's great UNHCR
data there about where and who moved within
Ukraine. Out of 2.2 million people displaced from
that war, there's more than
and Donetsk Oblast, not from Crimea -
and a lot of them, if you can look at
where the women and children are,
and where people with disabilities are,
they're they're usually within
Ukrainian controlled Luhansk and Donetsk Oblast,
so they don't even go very far to Ukraine.
And this can be explained by several factors.
When I spoke to people on the ground,
it was clear that unlike today, where there is
cash assistance even internally within Ukraine,
then social benefits, even the meager social
benefits that people with disabilities and some
families rely on, were tied unto and based on
where you live. So, people would stand in
checkpoints just to go back and receive
their benefits, their social benefits
in Ukraine. Well, we think that
people move as they're able to based
on their resources, based on their abilities,
you know, we should also consider some
of the constraints to their mobility based
on social policy. But I also want to echo
Marta's point about the
importance of the gender
dimension of the migration, that women and children
are visiting their families, there's multiple
reasons for that, such as men who've stayed
back. Many men cannot leave. Unlike the
war before the war, when a lot of Ukrainian men would
often try to sometimes ditch the draft, try to
emigrate. Today, that is strictly enforced and
men stay. Unless you have a disability granted
by the Ukrainian state, you cannot leave.
And this is a coveted document.
You know, wars often don't resolve
corruption issues that, unfortunately, remain.
You know, these are documents that
are often only accessible to those
who have resources. And a vast
majority of men cannot leave at all.
So, it makes perfect sense to me, Marta, what
you've heard back on your survey that women and
families are coming to visit perhaps and also get
convinced their elderly parents to leave, as well.
Thank you. Thanks, Raphi.
Toward the end of the event I'll give
everyone on the panel maybe three minutes
to wrap up with whatever comments they would
like to make as reaction, but now let's open
everything up to everyone else on the call.
If you have a question that you'd like to
post directly, that would be the most efficient
way forward. Just raise your hand, please,
and we'll unmute you. Or you're welcome
to use the Q&A function, as well.
So, questions from the other participants.
Yes! Go ahead, Irina. Thank you so much for
this really insightful discussion and an amazing
panel. My question is about public institutions. I'm curious
if there is any information about the ongoing activity,
if there is any ongoing activity in public
institutions, such as education, maybe health
as well? We've been talking about comparisons
between Ukraine and Syria. Can anyone speak to
a comparison of public institutions operating
or being limited in their operation? Thank you!
Should I jump in or leave the space
to my colleagues? Go ahead.
Okay! So, the issue of different stakeholders
involved in this, let's say Poland's response
to the crisis. Obviously, the public sector is a
key stakeholder in terms of the infrastructural
and financial capacities. So, I would say that
from the point of view of the implementation of
real actions, these are local governments,
in case of Poland, that are really crucial.
Let me give you the numbers that we have
from public institutions and their services
from Warsaw. These are the very recent data I got
from my colleagues from the City Hall just for
Tuesday evening presentation I mentioned
I had. So, the situation is, we have to say,
pretty good in terms of big cities because
simply big cities have the capacities to receive
foreigners in general. So for example in big
cities like Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, or Gdańsk
or Lublin, we have language schools, we have also
NGOs very often cooperating with local government.
And these NGOs, being the main provider of the
very field work support, like language, like care,
like labor market and so on. So, the numbers for
Warsaw. From the 26th of April, as an overview,
what was the state of play? So the number
of people, that let's say went through or
passed through Warsaw from the end of February,
is estimated by the City Hall as 700,000, but
only 300,000 are considered as those that decided
to stay in Warsaw so far and benefit from this
Polish version of temporary protection.
Also the new act for Ukrainian refugees
allows them to register with the municipality of
any city or town to receive a very specific ID.
In Poland, each of us has its own number. It's
not precisely ID number or passport number.
Let me give you the full name in English
to be very precise. So we have something
that we call PESEL, so Universal Electronic
System for Registration of the Population. So,
of a specific person. So, Ukrainian refugees that
came to Poland after 24th are allowed to apply
for this PESEL and it makes possible for them
to access any services, also with online access.
So, these numbers are also important for us and
public authorities to estimate how many of these
people are really staying in the country. The
numbers from late April in terms of these PESEL
applications are for the whole Poland almost
region where Warsaw, the capital, is located, is
more than 190,000, and for Warsaw itself, 90,000.
Then the numbers of children and teenagers that
are covered by primary and secondary education
is 16,000 for Warsaw. Then the number of people
that are registered as unemployed, so simply
those that declare their will to search for a job,
is up to 2,000. And then the places, let's say
the places of city accommodation where people
can stay for a short time. So, let's say the
short time accommodation is as of now 86,000.
So, we see that the local government and local
level institutions provide rather a good support.
The problem is with the support provided from
the central level, especially with the money.
This is now our main issue when we are discussing
this with colleagues from municipalities. Even
this afternoon, we had an open seminar about
the capacities, relocation, and housing.
So, housing is accommodation. At least mid-term
accommodation is necessary, and simply cities
do not have enough place to offer these
people proper housing and living conditions.
I think that maybe that's it for this moment,
not to monopolize the discussion. Laurie Hart.
Hi, thank you so much for this
extremely informative panel. It's wonderful
to hear your thoughts. I had a question
about European solidarity. I found those
comments really interesting, particularly
with reference to the relative absence of
solidarity for reception previously during
the Syrian crisis in 2015 and afterwards.
There were, of course, individual countries
who made generous gestures at various moments,
but with reference for example to Greece, a lot of
concern about being left to handle the migration
crisis by themselves. Obviously, there
was support, but very kind of erratic,
so I'm just wondering what your thoughts might
be on a change. There was, of course, solidarity
against the reception of migrants and I wonder
if this shift in relationship to Ukraine.
What are your thoughts on the promise of more
solidarity around reception a more coordinated
and future-oriented policy in the EU itself, or
with reference to EU solidarity and migrants?
Thank you! I can maybe start and then others can
chip in. I obviously don't have an answer, but I
can try and comment and offer some reflections
on it. I'm relatively pessimistic, I think,
for a couple of reasons. You know, between 2015
and 2016, there was quite a lot of movement
of migrants across Europe. And so while
Poland and Hungary did not accept many,
and there was a kind of sway towards the Northwest
of Europe, of course Germany received many,
Sweden proportionately even more, and
countries like Norway, and Sweden, and Finland,
and you know, basically all the other members of
the EU, and the EEA especially in the Northwest,
but also along the Southern part of the EU, not
only sort of to the Southeast, did receive and did
give asylum in the end to quite a few of those
people who arrived. And because there were so
many countries, even though the numbers weren't
that high in each one of them, apart from Germany
and Sweden, you know, there were quite a few that
actually went on. I think that picture is also a
little bit mixed. And since then, the numbers of
asylum seekers have fallen and that's not random.
That is exactly because of the EU-Turkey deal.
Now, Poland is a member of the EU, so they're not
going to make a Poland-EU deal,
because it doesn't work like that.
But still I think that's an interesting reference
point to think through, because it is about who is
going to actually be doing the work of assisting
people, providing these places in schools,
in hospitals, and making sure that all
these social benefits systems work etc.
And of course, within that context,
there is a question of what do people
themselves think. In this case, people who
have moved out of Ukraine. I think there's an
important question there, as well. I think there's
a couple of reasons why there hasn't been a more
organized approach to relocation.
There are political reasons within
Poland on that, which I'm sure Marta could say
more intelligent stuff about that than I can,
but there hasn't been a political pressure
from the Polish government at all to do this.
Quite to the country, weirdly enough. One
of the reasons that is maybe more sensitive,
easy to be sympathetic to, is that many Ukrainians
have also not wanted to move further afield.
And those that have wanted to move where they have
relatives, which makes sense. And they've done so.
And they haven't had to have help, or papers to do
so, so it's kind of a bit of a chaotic situation.
I think one of the reasons why it's also been so
chaotic is that it was this unprecedented scale
and speed, and the war that is actually happening
in Europe. And so it's not mainly in Europe on
our news. It's not mainly about migration,
refugees, displacement. It's not, sadly,
mainly about the humanitarian crisis and
the suffering of civilians in Ukraine even.
There's a lot of that on the news, as well.
But it's mainly about the war and the military
questions around the war. I think that sort
of contextualizes in Europe what is going on.
Hopefully, after there is peace, we can take a
step back and actually try and learn something
from this. There will be lessons learned and I
hope that that will also involve solidarity within
Europe. But far more than that I sincerely hope
it will involve solidarity with people displaced
around the world. Because I think that's the real
problem. Within the EU, they'll figure stuff out.
I think Poland and the other neighboring countries
may have reason to complain. Well, let's see.
But I think the real issue is the one, which
happens beyond the EU borders. I'm not so hopeful,
but I do hope that there will be lessons learned
about solidarity beyond the European borders,
as well. I can chime in here, because we can think
about European solidarity or support as a matter
of being receivers and receptors of refugees,
but we can also think of the money that they can
provide to refugee host states elsewhere in
the world. And traditionally this has been
the sort of grand bargain - that global North
states provide the funding to international
organizations to support refugee host states
in places like the Middle East. However,
on the one hand, you could be optimistic and
say that, you know, maybe Europeans have gained
solidarity for people fleeing conflict situations,
but you can also see how it can very easily go,
and already has gone, in the other direction,
where in fact humanitarian aid funding has
already been redirected from other
crises around the world to respond to the
Ukrainian crisis. You can also even see the money
itself flowing in these ways that are unlikely to
revert back to those other places anytime soon.
And then, to continue that line of reasoning
that Rana has proposed, if we look at refugee
policy in Ukraine and how the EU has approached
that part of the world long before the war,
and even before the war in Donbas, after the
accession of Poland, and Slovakia, and Hungary,
and Romania. And there's a growing mobilization of
resources towards building up Ukrainian migration
control, capacity building with the border guards,
working with trainings from EU lPU agencies. And
eventually, after some criticism, and human rights
issues, and immigrant detention, eventually more
money for for refugee affairs. I've written about
this a little bit. Even some of this, some of the
support for refugee programs has been aiming to
root refugees in Ukraine, and prevent them
incentivize programs that drew people
in place, programs for local integration,
while we've seen slashing of resettlement programs
not just in Ukraine, but all over the world.
So, we see even the ways in which humanitarian,
that we see this regime shifting as Alexander
Betts calls it. He has kid of a rosy picture of
how these resources start moving towards
humanitarian affairs. But I think even if they
stay, even within the refugee system, we see kind
of hollowing out of that international structure.
Instead we see European solidarity based on some
kind of, if not a primordial, then kind of
security-based sympathy for
Ukrainians. And they're from their
policy framework, as opposed to one based
on that grand bargain, that Rana mentioned.
Yes, Martin. When it comes to
European solidarity in the future,
I am not optimistic at all. I think, as Raphi
mentioned, European Union is willing to pay
anybody anywhere to stop refugees on their way.
Be it Libya, Sudan, or Ukraine. I myself was
conducting a research in Tajikistan and the result
was that there is a flow of European money to stop
Afghans already in Tajikistan from coming
to Europe. So, I'm not optimistic at all.
I think just Ukraine is too close and they have
free access, because they do not need any visa,
but I think the direction is more the UK approach
– to think of processing all claims in Rwanda.
I heard that Danes like it, as well. This idea
to process every asylum seeker's case in Rwanda
and then to locally integrate even the successful
ones in Rwanda. So, I'm afraid the solidarity
of Europe with refugees will not improve
in the future. Even now, I think it's our,
let's say central - Polish, Czech, Hungarian -
picture of improved solidarity, but I think for
countries like Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands
nothing has changed. It's the same like
it was with Syrians. The same situation
with Ukrainians even in terms of numbers.
So, I'm not really optimistic when it comes to
the future improved EU solidarity with refugees.
I will maybe follow up as the last one with
what Martin said. I have to fully agree
with this rather pessimistic stance regarding the
future of the EU solidarity. The question is how
we understand this is solidarity. Because
if we look at the primary law of the EU,
just for example in the case of asylum and
migration policy, Article 80, solidarity
is there. It's mentioned in terms of sharing
any responsibilities among new Member States
in case of crisis or emergencies, but also
it's about every aspect of crisis management,
so infrastructure and money. The point is that
we've seen, and we've tested, we had a small
pilot project - let's put it this way - in
we compare it to the current situation. There was
a good plan expressed in the European Commission
communication, European Agenda on Migration.
There was a good mechanism, at least in my view,
the relocation scheme, and it failed, because
the idea of relocation was to move up to 160,000
asylum seekers checked from two EU countries to
other EU countries. That success rate, let's call
it this way, after two-year scheme was only more
or less 34.7 thousand relocations. And this is
the answer to why this time the EU, and especially
the European Commission, did not decide to launch
the relocation scheme based on the Article
Because it has to be followed by the Council
decisions, and unfortunately it did not work
in 2015. Simply, the concept, the idea
was to leave this crisis management to
the countries themselves, especially a country
like Poland. We see that it brought some results,
because finally within two weeks, the country that
was so hostile to forced migrants from Middle East
simply put on the table a fully new law –
rather comprehensive, and rather pro-migrant,
and pro-refugee. So, it worked. Then, it's also
about the capacities of receiving forced migrants.
So, Poland counts 38 million people. For us,
receiving 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees now, is
not so much. We can still do this. We can absorb
them to the labor market and other segments of our
public life. The future of the EU solidarity, if
we look at the efficiency of the EU asylum policy,
we know that the reform of the
common European zone system
launched or proposed by the European Commission
in 2015 did not happen and now
we have the new European Commission framework
called New Pact on Migration and Asylum. It's an
asylum policy that is rather strict and rather
selective. And it's still not implemented. So,
the only change that has happened is the change of
the name and some responsibilities of the former
European Asylum Support Office. Now
it's called EU Agency for Asylum.
We've been talking mostly about Europe so far,
but I would also be interested in bringing in
these other cases into the conversation. Both the
U.S. and Canadian governments have spoken about
resettling numbers of the Ukrainian refugees.
Perhaps you know, Raphi or Rana, can you
break down for us the politics and the likely
outcomes of those North American schemes?
Yeah, thanks for that question, David. So,
it was originally, I think, several weeks
ago that president Biden announced that he
would be first allowing for the relocation,
but then it was announced as part of a
resettlement scheme. And then more recently,
it looks like the system that's being built is
the scheme, as you referred to it, as outside of
actual refugee resettlement. I mean, it's also
going to be based on contact and established
primary family within the United States.
So that excludes the most vulnerable people
that don't have resources and contacts in the
United States. I can't really speak to
how effective the prospects of this
might be, except to say, you know,
it sounds like it's not benefiting the people that
are probably most vulnerable. But also trivially,
I have been in touch with some Ukrainians,
who are in Poland and Germany, who are
considering coming to the United States, just
various friends. I give you this one interesting
case about somebody who was already planned to be
resettled under the refugee resettlement program
to the United States. A family with four kids who
had a missile hit. They were on their resettlement
track for religious persecution a year before
the war. They had their resettlement interview
with IOM office in Kyiv, and then they
had a missile hit two doors down from
their house in Kyiv. And so they were actually
involved in the initial early March. And then
they fled to Germany. They are so scared. They
think the war is going to come to Germany too,
so they still intend on going to Tijuana instead
of waiting for a resettlement, because they've
been calling the consulate, and of course there's
so little infrastructure. They haven't been able
to receive any update based on their case. They've
been there for four weeks. They have their very
secure and relatively opportune situation with
friends of friends in Germany, but they're still
thinking of just packing their bags and going to
Tijuana and hoping to cross, even as you know, the
current U.S. scheme of letting Ukrainians in at
the border is about to come to an end, allegedly.
They're still hearing the information that this
channel is open. And still wanting to leave
aside even their refugee application. They have
family in the United States, a sister at least, so
they don't think they'll be reunited with
their sister because it's only for parents,
right? And children. Those who have
parents and children in the United States.
But even those who have some relatives are
looking to go around the system. I don't
think it's a way for them to
come to the U.S. anytime soon.
Thanks! And I'll just add, I think we really
can't overstate how much the U.S. refugee
resettlement system was decimated with the
cuts that Trump made during his administration,
so that even when Biden lifted the severe
caps that Trump had implemented last year,
I think something like 11,000 refugees were
resettled only, even though I think the cap was
something closer to 100, because the resettlement
agencies have just completely lost their capacity
to take on this work. And just to note that
prior to this crisis, there was the Afghanistan
crisis caused by the withdrawal of the U.S. and
so the U.S. head also was sort of quite slow,
but fairly steady in re-bringing Afghans
to the U.S. I think something like 50,000,
but they also spent months on military bases just
because there was such a limited support system.
Another question for anyone on the panel who
would care to react. Obviously, there's been
a huge outpouring of media coverage around
the war in Ukraine, but what is that coverage
not getting about experiences of involuntary
immobility, internal displacement,
refugee experiences that you're
aware of as experts in this area?
What should the journalists be covering more?
If real quickly, I want to just jump in and say
I think the elephant on the table is migration to
Russia and mostly literally forced expulsions from
the newly occupied territories in Eastern Ukraine,
and Southern Ukraine. There's been a report. The
Russian Foreign Ministry I think announced in a
press release - take it for all the salt that
it's worth - I think it was around just under
some of them all the way to Vladivostok, put on
trains and just sent out like very kind of classic
Russian population transfer scheme. Many folks,
many Ukrainians, who are basically being put
on buses and sent to Russia against their will.
A few of the ones that have privileged folks,
who are able to come to Europe, have relocated,
and exited, and entered Poland via Belarus.
I've heard several stories there.
But most people are relocated to
various parts of Russia through these...
I don't know. There's very little information
on it outside of this press release. But even
earlier in the war, the UNHCR reported there was
like hundreds, it was like 17,000 people have
gone to Russia. I think it's much more than that.
Even if we do take the Russian Foreign Ministry's
press release with any grain of salt, I think it's
much more. And we should consider and we should
think about it in terms of a forced migration that
is different than the one we're seeing in Europe.
Just to underscore that, I was trying to
respond to questions on the Norwegian state news
channel had asked questions from the public.
And there were some people who were asking
about that. I had already tried to find
information about it, but then I thought:
Okay, let me try and actually find more. I don't
speak or read Russian, so that's not very helpful,
but I can speak and read Polish. So, I tried
looking for things in English and Polish
and I couldn't really find anything that was
verifiable and sensible, except the fact that
there are reportedly hundreds of thousands of
people according to different sources. How many?
We don't quite know. And some of them probably
have been forcefully removed from Ukraine to
Russia, others probably tried to escape bombing
and gone to the closest place where it was safe.
And then we don't quite know what's going
on. I think that would be the one thing
I completely agree that we don't know enough
about. Not just the media not covering it. We
actually don't know. And that's kind of scary. And
then in terms of media representations otherwise,
I guess a couple of things that I thought about.
One is – it's not really politically correct to
report about men, who maybe aren't happy about not
being able to leave. That's a very obvious thing,
but that's something that we don't hear so much
about. Another aspect of that relates also to
the political nature of reporting, at least in the
West. And I think that goes for most European news
outlets, and probably North American ones,
as well. Probably quite different, I think,
if you look at news reporting elsewhere in the
world – in terms of anything that's being recorded
instead of through this prism of how we see the
war, and there are sort of things that I think are
objective, so the crimes against humanity,
that probably have been happening, that we're
seeing evidence of that. There aren't two ways
of reporting that. I'm not arguing for that, but
the more broader geopolitical context of the war
and how it's understood is reported differently.
I do a lot of research in Pakistan. I try to read
the media there and the whole debate around the
war is very different in media in South Asia than
it is in Europe for instance. And also, if you
read things like the New York Times, which are not
that different from mainstream European media, as
well. I think there's something about which media
are we speaking about that maybe is worth just
flagging up, as well. And I think it relates to
the fact that, of course, everything is political.
I think that resonates with something that Rona
mentioned earlier – in terms of how people that
arrived in Europe in 2015 were from predominantly
Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Of course,
at that point in time, Europe didn't really want
to have refugees from Afghanistan, because it
didn't really fit the narrative. Because at that
point, we were building democracy there, so we
couldn't really have refugees from there. I think
it's how we have media reporting about conflicts,
not just displacement, but just the conflict as a
whole is always connected with broader questions
of the politics and geopolitics of those wars.
And I don't think that's any different here.
I was just reading and there's a comment in the
chat from Carolyn Rose Avila. My friend in Chicago
helped receive a Ukrainian family. They came
across the border at Laredo, Texas about a month
ago. They had no problem being allowed to cross
the border, nor is there a court date on their
request for asylum. They got a bus to Chicago, now
stay with other Ukrainian community in Chicago.
I've worked on the Tijuana border and in Texas
and rarely does a family come across without
being detained at least for a few days. And
this is the policy that Raphi referred to
of basically a more favorable treatment for
Ukrainian asylum seekers. In fact, the uniquely
favorable treatment at the border, certainly in
Tijuana – San Diego, although we've been told that
treatment has either ended or is
about to end in the next few days.
Okay, any other questions from the
audience? If not, I would like to go ahead and
just invite every one of the panelists to take
three minutes and give your final impressions,
react to what's been said by the other panelists.
We'll just go in the same order of
the beginning of the presentation,
so let's start with you, Marta.
Thank you very much. I have to leave you in five
minutes because it's almost 11pm here. So firstly,
I really appreciate joining this group of
panelists, because usually we are discussing
any EU or EU Member States related topics mostly
within the European academic community. Only
during some conferences we have this chance to
exchange our experience, our lessons learned,
or our perceptions with colleagues from other
research units in other countries. I'm very
grateful because what I've heard especially from
colleagues like Rana and Raphi, this is very
fresh. So, what can we say? We are trying to do
what we can as migration researchers, but also as
human beings: to provide support to people in need
on a daily basis, also to collect as many reliable
data as we can, and on these basis to be able to
form any helpful policy recommendations for our
governors. I know that the crisis is about
crisis management, supporting people,
but this is also about learning what should
be done in the future not to have this kind
of crisis, or to solve this kind of crisis as
soon as possible. How to address this kind of
challenges? The Ukrainian case is only the next
case after the Syrian one, and Afghan one, showing
us that there is a huge need to revise, in my
opinion, not only the European asylum framework,
but in fact the global protection framework.
So, the question is, for example, whether the
UN Geneva Convention 1951 is still valid. Maybe
it should be revised. I think that the list of
questions that can be raised, having this kind of
crisis, is very long. But it's not only local, or
regional, or European issue. It's something bigger
because if not now, soon there will be other
emergencies connected to, let's say, forced
mobility and forced migration. It can be also
induced by environmental factors, not
only war or humanitarian issues. Thank
you very much. I apologize but I have
to leave you in two minutes. Thank you
very much once again for this great event.
Thank you, Marta, and good night to you.
Thanks very much. And thanks also to Marta, and
also to her colleagues at the Center for Migration
Research in Warsaw. If you're interested in
these issues, definitely follow them on Twitter.
They have reports and things that are really
priceless. A couple of points. I think they'll
sort of dovetail well with what has been said.
I don't think this panel necessarily disagrees
on many things, but that maybe isn't a problem,
I think. First of all, I think this discussion,
and generally as I've been trying to follow
what's going on with displacement from Ukraine,
it was really striking how it is actually very
similar. And I think Rana brought that up in
terms of the Syrian case, but if you look
at for instance refugee reception in Uganda,
which is often brought up as an example that many
of us, I think, know a little bit about, with
refugees from many different contexts, including
South Sudan, and DRC, and many others. And with a
different approach to receiving refugees than what
we know from many European countries historically.
I think it is interesting, because it seems to me
that what Poland is doing, and as Marta said, it's
to a large extent the civil society and
population. And then the state is sort of
following on from that slightly. It is perhaps
more similar to what we know from Uganda than
what we know from certainly Scandinavia. I think
there's something interesting there that we can,
hopefully, learn from in terms of how refugees are
met in crisis situations. I think that also poses
some really difficult questions in terms of these
global refugee protection mechanisms, that we have
in institutions. I think it's always scary to even
suggest that we should touch the 51 Convention
because I don't think any of us thinks that the
world is going to come up with anything, which is
better at this point. At the same time, we know
that it doesn't really quite work. Of course, just
the 51 Convention alone wouldn't give everyone
who is leaving Ukraine protection, because
it's focused on individuals and their fear
of persecution, of course. I think there are
some difficult conversations that we could have
when the political climate is ready for that.
I'm not too optimistic about that, to be very
honest, but I do think that there is no way around
it. I think the European context really shows that
because of this crisis at the border of the EU,
we have and we continue having discussions
in the European Parliament. What the European
Parliament members are saying is not
what is happening at the EU border. So,
there isn't a democratic legitimacy for
what the EU is actually doing at its borders
even within the EU Parliament. Yes, there are
right-wing politicians in most countries that
support some of these rules, but actually, most
politicians don't. So, why this keeps going on
is incredibly surprising, really. And I think
one possible avenue to consider going forward
is really trying to look at the refugee and the
migration issues more jointly. I think there could
have been an opportunity there for that with
the Global Compact that didn't quite work out.
Maybe with the IOM being part of the UN, maybe
there are opportunities there going forward.
But I do think that this situation underscores
that that is necessary because of other mobility
rights that Ukrainians have. This situation has
been, in a way so far at least, resolved without
deaths at borders, which has been the main problem
in the EU before. And it is also through the fact
that they had rights to work in many EU countries
before the war, people from Ukraine, that
that is automatically now being granted. I don't
think we can assume that would have been the case
otherwise. I think that suggests that connecting
working rights for refugees in ways that are
very uncomfortable and uncommon in Europe,
but not in North America in the same way,
is something that needs to be looked at further
in the European context going forward. And I
think that could be good for both, refugees and
European societies. I think there are sort of
difficult conversations to be had about how that's
going to happen, because it shouldn't be the case
that you compromise protection rights by giving
people the right to work. And in Europe, those are
two different conversations. So, either you come
to work as a migrant, or you come as a refugee,
because you need protection. So potentially,
there are things to be learned maybe from Uganda,
maybe also even from the North American context,
although I know that in the North American context
perhaps, the perception is that you don't really
have that many lessons to teach, but maybe you do.
Thank you. I just want to thank all panelists and
people asking questions. I think it was a very
interesting panel. And for me – the first time
to be in this US environment. Our discussions in
Europe are always too much Europe forecast. As my
friend in Germany says: It's all about Dublin. So,
I hope that even this Ukrainian opportunity gives
us the chance to start a new level of cooperation
within Europe, but also between the continents,
on better protection of refugees, because what I
see now in Europe is a lot of illegal activities
somehow not supported but tolerated by states.
And I wish that this Ukrainian lesson will
give us a chance for a new start. Thank you.
I also want to thank everybody who has attended
this panel: Martin, Marta E.,
Marta P., as well as Rana.
I enjoyed this very much. I have been thinking a
lot about some of the implications of the previous
conflicts over the last eight years, and of the
EU's external and Russia's external policy towards
Ukraine and how it has shaped a lot of these
displacements we've seen today. I've been wrestling
with a lot of these questions. Hearing your
thoughts, I think we all agree that there's a lot
to be pessimistic about in terms of what lessons
Europe can draw, the limits to the lessons that
Europe can draw from the solidarity that's
experiencing towards Ukrainians on one hand,
and in terms of creating an international refugee
policy and opportunities for this at the moment.
At the same time, I also want to echo what
Martin said. I think this is in the end
an opportunity, unfortunately. One that, I
hope, not only Europe but also the United
States can learn from. I think David and I were
just speaking a couple of days ago about how
support for Ukrainian refugees, for any
refugee group, is highest it's ever been
in the United States at the moment. I hope
that there's some spillover effect there. But
the mechanisms by which that might
come about are unclear. I hope that
we can have further conversations with various
groups that are working on the ground, such as
Martin's group, or working with refugees,
and keep collaborating on projects, where
we can work with civil society to envision
a better world and better policies together.
Thank you, Raphi. We'll give the final word to
Rana. Well, David, I hope you will take the final
word, but I want to echo what everyone has said.
I've learned a lot by participating in this panel,
so thank you for the opportunity and the unique
perspectives you each bring. One thing that I've
been thinking about a lot is how the nature of the
conflict itself is producing different outcomes
for refugees. In particular, most conflicts over
the last several decades have been civil wars,
intra-state wars, and so Ukraine is different
not only in all the ways we've talked about,
but also in being an inter-state war. I think
that has implications for many of the things we
talked about today. For example, the question of
gender or the sex of refugees, and how in cases
of an inter-state war, it seems there might
be less opportunities for men, for instance,
to either defect by going to the other side,
or defect by leaving the country all together.
So, I don't know if there could be more lessons
that we can take from historical examples of
inter-state warfare, including in Europe from
many decades ago. Just to sort of chime into
the question that David brought up about media
coverage and what can they be doing better.
Part of me wants to say: No, I want them to keep
doing more of the same, but not just for Ukraine,
because I think that their sort of humanization
of conflict processes focusing on how civilians
are targeted, focusing on the difficult decision
making that goes into displacing, into leaving,
I think it would be a great virtue to bring
all of that more into coverage of other regions
of the world. Even though I am also wary of what
Marta mentioned – of the good and evil narratives,
and how those sometimes too much dominate the
coverage. I'll wrap up my two minutes there.
Thank you again. Well, thank you, Rana, and thanks
to all of our panelists. Just a quick programming
note. Our next event is a research seminar, which
will be next Friday, May 6. Same time and place,
via Zoom. We'll be hearing from Jiaqi Liu of
the Department of Sociology at UC San Diego
on the question of Chinese politics of outbound
student migration, the relationship between the
Chinese state and Chinese students abroad.
So, I hope you will join us for that
and for all the other activities that
we're co-sponsoring this year between
UCLA Center for the Study
of International Migration,
and UC San Diego's Center for
Comparative Immigration Studies.
Have a good weekend, everyone.