EU braces for waves of refugees from food crisis

The European Union must prepare for the arrival of new waves of refugees pushed by the food crisis aggravated by the war in Ukraine, warned on Monday the acting director of the coast guard and border guard agency Frontex, Aija Kalnaja.

The official stressed that the EU was “well prepared for refugees from Ukraine”. “At the same time we must also prepare for refugees coming from other regions because of food insecurity“, she told the press as she arrived at a meeting in Prague of European interior ministers.

“You know that the transport of wheat from Ukraine is hampered. And this will create waves of migration. So we are preparing for that”did she say.

Ukraine, one of the world’s largest cereal exporters, has seen its production blocked by Moscow’s military offensive. Around 20 million tonnes of grain from last year’s harvest are stuck in Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea.

The situation has aggravated soaring prices on world markets and the food crisis that threatens Ukraine’s major customers, especially African and Middle Eastern countries.

Moscow says it will allow Ukrainian ships laden with foodstuffs to sail if the Ukrainian army demines its ports, which kyiv, which fears for the safety of its Black Sea coasts, refuses to consider.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also warned in June that without a response to the food crisis caused by Russia, the world’s record 100 million displaced people would swell further, citing ” a big number “.

The war launched by Russia in Ukraine on February 24 caused a wave of refugees from this country – unprecedented since the Second World War – which prompted the EU to grant them an unprecedented temporary protection status.

According to the UN, the EU hosts 5.6 million Ukrainian refugees. Poland is the EU country with the most (1.2 million). The Czech Republic is the country that hosts the most in relation to the number of inhabitants (nearly 400,000).

According to Frontex, from June 30 to July 6, fewer Ukrainian nationals entered the EU (252,246) than returned to their country (265,793).

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said flows between Ukraine and the EU had returned to pre-war levels.

She added that “many Ukrainians in the EU were going to make a decision” on a possible return to their country “before the start of the school year”.

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