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Flow of Ukrainian refugees may surge again but Russian authorities say they’ll manage

November 06, 2014, 16:10 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
Temporary accommodation center for ukrainian refugees in Moscow Region

Temporary accommodation center for ukrainian refugees in Moscow Region

© ITAR-TASS/Sergei Savostianov

MOSCOW, November 6. /TASS/. Although the influx of Ukrainian refugees into Russia has eased somewhat over the past few months, there are fears it may surge up again as winter time is round the corner. The federal authorities are very serious about this issue. The local ones are doing their utmost to accommodate and employ the new arrivals, but the outstanding problems are still too numerous to count. Many refugees are still staying at temporary shelters as the winter season draws near. There seems to be not enough coordination in distributing the new arrivals among Russian regions.

The presidential council for civil society and human rights has drafted a special report to the head of state regarding the support for Ukrainian refugees. It urged faster solution to the problems of their status, employment and social rights and also put forward a number of specific proposals for how to go about this business.

According to the human rights council, by the middle of October 2014 more than 835,000 Ukrainian citizens had arrived in Russia after being forced to flee the zone of the armed conflict. Many issues regarding their presence in Russia have remained legally unsettled to this day.

Most of the displaced persons have been given temporary refugee certificates, which enables them to get jobs without special permission. The chief of the Federal Migration Service (FMS), Konstantin Romodanovsky, says only 207,000 Ukrainian migrants have received temporary refuge.

The human rights council drew attention to the fact that some regions, including Moscow, St. Petersburg and Crimea, in fact have established a ban on granting the refugee status or temporary refuge to Ukrainian migrants and demanded that this practice should be revised as running counter to the applicable legislation.

On the other hand, the authorities of those regions which for certain reasons, such as proximity to the Ukrainian border or chances of getting decent wages, are most favoured by migrants have been complaining that they are unable to cope with the further tide of newcomers. How many refugees have been through tent camps in the Belgorod and Rostov regions and Crimea last summer is anyone’s guess. Neither the Federal Migration Service nor the Emergencies Ministry can say anything for certain. Possibly, “hundreds of thousands.”

The Russian government last summer approved of a pattern of refugees’ distribution among different territories: 150,000 were to leave for all regions of Russia except for the already overcrowded Rostov and Belgorod regions, Crimea, Moscow and St. Petersburg.

According to the Federal Migration Service Russia’s 900 temporary accommodation centres currently house 48,000, and private households, another 400,000 or more.”The government has provided 6.5 billion rubles,” Romodanovsky said. “They are meant for expenses on transportation, meals on the way and assistance to those accommodated by private households,” Romodanovsky said.

In the meantime, human rights activists have been warning a new tide of refugees may follow. Russian presidential commissioner for human rights Ella Pamfilova is warning “one should be prepared for another tide of migration, and not only from Ukraine’s south-east.”

“We shall accommodate them, of course, if they come,” Romodanovsky replied. He acknowledged that Russia had not seen such a flow of refugees in its modern history. “It was not an "ice bucket challenge", but an "ice barrel challenge" for all of us. But we already have a pilot scheme, a template to follow. We know what to do about that,” Romodanovsky said. “Then we shall ask the government and the president to provide additional funding.”

On November 3, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed a resolution to disburse 1.466 billion roubles in extra subsidies to accommodate Ukrainian refugees at temporary shelters.


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