In 2021, around 200,000 people tried to cross the borders of the European Union illegally. Today the war over Ukraine is generating another wave of migration and, curiously, the countries willing to take in those fleeing are the same ones that have been indolent in the face of a long-standing migration crisis.
The high figure was revealed by Frontex and is the highest since 2017, reaffirming a problem that among its actors, migrants, causes fear, desperation and thousands of deaths every year.
These migrants do not understand why today the European Union presents itself as a defender of undocumented migrants when in reality it lacks a common stance on this phenomenon, which is not only a product of armed conflicts.
As announced, the European Union (EU) is granting temporary protection in its member states to Ukrainians displaced by the conflict with Russia, but in the meantime thousands of migrants who arrived in the old continent for various reasons remain ostracised. Despite constant appeals from humanitarian and human rights organisations, and even from the integrationist bloc’s own institutions, the issue is still an unresolved matter for the EU, according to analysts.
European Commission (EC) President Ursula von der Leyen urged last September to adopt the new European Pact on Migration and Asylum “once and for all” in order to “avoid future incidents at the external borders”.
At that time, thousands of undocumented migrants gathered in the border area between Belarus and Poland in an attempt to cross into EU territory.
These events focused media attention by endangering regional stability while the West held Belarus responsible and threatened its president, Alexander Lukashenko, with sanctions.
The president, in turn, indicated that his country had “neither the money nor the strength” to stop the exodus and believed that Warsaw was looking for pretexts to place its troops closer to the border areas.
In this context, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokesperson Shabia Mantoo expressed concern and readiness to assist the EU in resolving what she described as a “humanitarian problem”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the integrationist mechanism of being “hypocritical” and assured that Moscow did everything possible to resolve the crisis, while the bloc-imposed sanctions on Minsk and softened its position with Warsaw.
According to Frontex, increasing poverty and inequality, aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and phenomena associated with the climate emergency, which are growing in volume, are among the reasons for this exodus.
Ruth Ferrero, professor of Political Science at the Complutense University of Madrid, considered at the time that it is not necessary to innovate in terms of policies, but rather to apply tools that “unfortunately states do not want to use”.
Now a new crisis is affecting the so-called old continent following Russia’s special military operation in the Donbass.
There was then a sudden mass exodus of people that the EU rushed to house, temporarily, even over and above health protocols to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
The number is already over half a million and Poland is one of the nations that has taken in the most refugees to date (over 100,000), but it has also accepted thousands of military personnel and weapons from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) to put pressure on Russia.
The same position was taken by states such as Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, Romania and others that aligned themselves with the West’s accusatory discourse against Moscow.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has repeatedly reaffirmed that its operations do not target Ukrainian cities or endanger the civilian population but are aimed at disabling the war infrastructure. While all this is going on, organisations such as the International Organisation for Migration and UNHCR denounce that camps for migrants in Greece and other EU countries lack minimum conditions of habitability and sanitation.
Thousands live there in overcrowded conditions, deprived of specialised medical care, and vulnerable to diseases such as Covid-19. (PL)