Yesterday, Al Jazeera’s Inside Story focused on the question ‘how many Ukrainian refugees can Europe receive?’, with contributions from Professor Alexander Betts (RSC), Matthew Saltmarsh (UNHCR), and Camille Le Coz (Migration Policy Institute).
The discussion highlighted the number of refugees both in countries neighbouring Ukraine and moving on into Western Europe; the support being given by governments and communities; and the challenges faced in the medium and longer term. Betts emphasised the need for responsibility-sharing to make the integration of refugees from Ukraine sustainable within Europe: “one of the challenges is that while the humanitarian response in the short term has been very strong, the longer term challenge will be can we make this a sustainable response, can we provide the support that’s needed to frontline countries like Poland, Hungary, Moldova, so that they can sustain hosting refugees for the medium to long term… and can we create a viable relocation scheme…to relocate some refugees from those countries across the 27 EU Member States or beyond?”
He further stated: “We need responsibility-sharing across Europe, and this has been one of the challenges faced historically by the Common European Asylum System”. He argued that what is needed, and what the European Commission has recognised, is that the current system of allocating responsibility to frontline states is updated “to ensure there is more consistent responsibility-sharing and cooperation across the 27 EU Member States. This is a moment to put that to the test.”