Ukraine Crisis: Social Platform calls on EU to support the most vulnerable

Statement by Social Platform on the war in Ukraine | 2 March 2022

Social Platform stands in full solidarity with the people of Ukraine, their democratically elected leaders, and all those individuals and organisations providing urgent humanitarian support to the over half a million people who have already fled, as well as the millions still inside Ukraine of all nationalities, genders, ethnicities, races and religions whose right to refuge and asylum must be respected and facilitated.

Europe’s history taught us the value of peace to social justice and human rights. It has also taught us that those in the most vulnerable situations, like children, young and older people, women, LGBTI people, people with disabilities, undocumented migrants, Roma and others from persecuted ethnic or religious backgrounds, are always the first to suffer and the last to benefit. The Russian regime’s invasion of Ukraine must be stopped. It is not only causing a fracturing of our territorial peace in Europe, it will also fracture the daily lives of people in Ukraine, Russia and beyond, and perpetuate Russophobia.

As members of Social Platform many of us represent civil society organisations who are fighting disinformation, reporting on human rights abuses, helping migrants and refugees and others in vulnerable situations and providing vital services in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Our work shows just how crucial independent civil society is to democracy, peace and solidarity, and how important not-for-profit service providers are to fill gaps to ensure people can flee, obtain information, and access the services we offer.

Regular avenues to safety and access to basic services like food, shelter and medical care must be guaranteed at all costs. While ensuring that basic safeguards against abuse are properly guaranteed, all possible support must be given to individuals and organisations helping the most vulnerable and those at risk of being left behind in the panic of war, including people housed in institutions. Regular avenues must be complemented by practical measures to facilitate those fleeing, such as accessible transport services.

The activation of the Temporary Protection Directive is vital in this dire situation. It will not only allow Ukrainians to reside in the EU regularly after the usual 90-day visa-free period but will also protect those providing humanitarian assistance, including members of Social Platform. The EU must make sure that all people trying to flee Ukraine are welcomed, not just those holding Ukrainian nationality. For this, the complete and non-discriminatory application of the Geneva Convention and other forms of protection must be a priority.

The EU’s response must be centred on ensuring that peace prevails. We urge EU and national leaders to rapidly mobilise all EU funds and resources possible to make sure that those in Ukraine and those fleeing are protected, and that service providers and civil society organisations are able to defend human rights and provide the care and support needed.