A Dearth of Hands for Ukrainian Refugees1)
It has been four months since the Russo-Ukrainian war began when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The longer the war continues, the greater the damage to civilians is. More than 2,000 civilians are known to have lost their lives in the war. The number of refugees fleeing the country is increasing exponentially. The U.N. refugee agency said the number of refugees had reached 5.2 million on April 24, 2022. The proportion of women and children among refugees stands at 90%. An official from the U.N. Refugee Agency said, "I've never seen a faster increase in refugees. If the war continues, millions more refugees are expected." The war has brought about the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. The European Union and its neighbors are actively accepting refugees for now. On March 3, 2022, the EU agreed to operate a "temporary protection order system" for Ukrainian refugees. It was decided that refugees be given a residency permit of up to three years and employment opportunities. In neighboring Poland, resident registration cards are being issued and free state medical services and free education are being provided. It has also pledged 9.1 billion euros (12 trillion won) in aid by holding a fundraiser to support refugees.
However, as the war drags on, the number of Ukrainian refugees is increasing beyond the control of neighboring countries. More than 2 million people have entered Poland, 535,000 Romania, 312,000 Hungary, and Moldova, a non-EU member, also accepted 365,000. From March 24, 2022, the number of refugees accepted by Poland exceeded the total number of refugees accepted by the EU from 2014 to 2017. Poland has even had to spend money on refugee support that should have gone to citizens. As the number of refugees may surge again depending on future combat situations, it seems that the EU needs to establish specific and systematic countermeasures such as refugee distribution and other countries need to be more active in accepting refugees. As a result, Britain has decided to accept up to 200,000 refugees sponsored by its religious charities without limitations. The United States has also decided to accept 100,000 refugees. However, refugees are not necessarily being directed only to neighboring countries. In some cases, they are unable to leave for a nearby country due to unavoidable circumstances, and some of them are being directed to a faraway country with their families. It is said that the refugee crisis in a faraway country is closely related to Korea. In Korea, under the Overseas Koreans Act, the eligibility for entry has been eased for Russian Koreans. However, the conditions for Ukrainian nationality are limited to the family of long-term residents. On March 29, 2021, the Ministry of Justice said it would expand the scope to siblings and grandparents through consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but realistic changes were found to be insignificant.
1) Song Eunmi, "Poland Saying "Accepting Ukrainian Refugees, It's No More Affordable"", OBS News, April 25, 2022