Refugees from southeastern Ukraine unpack bags with aid prepared for them at the transit refugee camp at Artek Center in Simferopol (Reuters / Andrey Iglov)
At hearings in the European Parliament on Wednesday, Chairman of the Ukrainian Human Rights Commission Oleksii Tarasov warned that a wave of refugees from Ukraine is likely to hit the EU in the months ahead. Tarasov said that already in 2014 the number of Ukrainians applying for refugee status in EU countries was 13 times higher than prior to the crisis. So far this year 100% of those seeking refuge in Poland have been refused. The Baltic States have also been unwelcoming to those it sees as Russian speakers.
According to Tarasov, the economic situation in Ukraine is dire: the banks are close to collapse and all the major industrial enterprises have shut down. The tens of thousands of workers idled have been living off their savings, but savings will soon be depleted and the only remaining hope will be to get up and leave. This growing unease is in addition to the more than one million Donbass residents who have fled from the conflict zone, many of whom found refuge in Russia or Belarus.
Tarasov’s remarks were delivered in a meeting with MEPs, journalists and the public organized by Latvian MEP Tatjana Zhdanoka, to present a recently published book issued by the Ukrainian Human Rights monitors, Undeclared War at the Center of Europe. In 136 pages, this volume catalogues abuses of human rights ranging from deprivation of life to torture and degrading conditions of internment without charges meted out to suspected separatist sympathizers.