Temporary protection for Ukrainians to continue in the EU
At their meeting on 28 September, EU home affairs ministers decided to continue the temporary protection for people fleeing Ukraine in the EU. Based on an earlier decision, the EU Member States were obliged to provide temporary protection to refugees from Ukraine until 4 March 2024. In accordance with the new decision, protection will continue until 2025.
Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, millions of Ukrainians have fled the country to the EU. Immediately after the invasion began, the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council decided on 4 March 2022 that EU Member States would grant temporary protection to those fleeing Ukraine. This was the first time that the Council applied the Temporary Protection Directive.
The purpose of temporary protection is to guarantee a harmonised status and rights for these people in all EU Member States. In addition, the temporary protection mechanism prevents the need to immediately apply for international protection, which alleviates the pressure on Member States' asylum systems.
In accordance with the Council decision, temporary protection is granted to people who have been forced to leave Ukraine as a result of Russia’s invasion, which began on 24 February 2022. These people include Ukrainian nationals residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022; stateless persons, and nationals of third countries other than Ukraine, who benefited from international protection or equivalent national protection in Ukraine before 24 February 2022; and family members of the persons referred to above.
In addition, the Council decision requires Member States to provide either temporary protection or adequate protection under their national law to third-country nationals who were residing in Ukraine before 24 February 2022 on the basis of a permanent residence permit and who are unable to return in safe and durable conditions to their country or region of origin.
By the government decision of March 2022, Finland extended temporary protection to those Ukrainian nationals who had left Ukraine before the start of the war. These people, and the people directly covered by the Council decision, are fleeing the war in Ukraine, which is preventing them from returning.
In addition, Finland extended protection to third-country nationals who were residing in Ukraine with a non-permanent residence permit. The paragraph concerning the latter persons was repealed by government decision of 7 September 2023. In the next few weeks, the Government will decide whether to continue granting temporary protection to these persons as well.
Finland will continue to support Ukraine
In accordance with its Government Programme, Finland is committed to providing full assistance to people who have fled the war in Ukraine. Approximately 63,700 people have been granted temporary protection in Finland. At the moment, there are around 37,700 Ukrainians in the Finnish reception system. In total, approximately 4.1 million Ukrainian refugees are registered in the EU.
The authorities estimate that about 20,000–25,000 applicants for temporary protection will arrive in Finland this year. It is very difficult to predict how the war in Ukraine will develop, and there is little hope for a lasting peace. The need for temporary protection will continue in 2024.
Kukka Krüger, Chief Specialist, [email protected]