The Ombudsman investigates the problems of Ukrainian refugees to access approved financial aid | My Rights | Economy

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Volunteers distributing aid to Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Berlin on March 7, 2022.Patricia Sevilla Ciordia

One hundred euros a month for a woman and her daughter who, after fleeing the bombs on their land, live in a hostel in Soria. This is their pocket money apart from room and board. When one year has passed since the Russian invasion in Ukraine, many of the thousands of refugees in Spain are supported thanks to the charity of their neighbors and not to the public aid that was approved. Some of them have reported their situation to the Ombudsman, who is investigating these complaints.

Since February 2022, more than 8 million people have taken refuge in Europe after crossing the Ukrainian border to flee the conflict. Spain has registered a total of 167,726 sheltered in its territory, according to UNHCR. It is the third country with the most displaced residents among the non-neighboring European States of the invaded territory, only behind Germany and Italy. Furthermore, according to these data, all persons registered in Spain enjoy temporary protection. The European Union’s temporary protection directive was activated on March 4, 2022, allowing displaced persons to access rights such as residence, medical care, education, housing or work, in principle, for one year. A legal status that, recently, Brussels has suggested maintaining until March 2025.

The European Union has mobilized 523 million euros in humanitarian aid, but, according to complaints filed with the Ombudsman in Spain, this money is not always enough to live on. This is expressed in a complaint dated in said office last November, to which this medium has been able to access, and whose file is still ongoing. It’s not the only one. According to this office, other communications have been received, focusing especially on the difficulties in accessing resources during the second phase (in which the autonomous communities manage the financing of housing and food) and on the problems for people to obtain social assistance. who have not accessed the reception system.

A citizen who answers to the initials AA sent the letter about the situation of the Ukrainian refugees that he knows. In the complaint he highlights that this aid is so scarce that it violates the resolution of the European Commission on the matter. “In Belgium they give them 200 euros and here 50,” he cries.

According to the report Belgium, the right of asylum in the heart of Europe, prepared by the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR) in 2019, pocket aid for asylum seekers can “range between an average of 200 euros for a single adult in accommodation where food is offered, to an average of of about 260 euros in one that does not. The organization that manages the accommodation (with public funds) is also responsible for the costs associated with public transport, clothing, school fees, interpreters, etc.

The Flemish Agency for Integration and Citizenship’s Immigration and International Family Law page states that temporarily protected persons residing in the Brussels-Capital Region are entitled to Brussels family benefits. According to this same website as of August 1, 2022, the monthly living wage in the Flemish area is 758.64 euros for a cohabiting person, 1,137.97 euros for a single person and 1,537.90 euros for a person who lives with a dependent family. Duly registered refugees have access to other aid such as medical assistance, education and rent vouchers of 200 euros.

According to the Belgian Migration Office, from March 10, 2022 to January 31, 2023, the Aliens Office issued more than 65,000 temporary visas to Ukrainian citizens.

pocket help

On April 8, 2022, a month and a half after the start of the war, the General Directorate of Management of the International and Temporary Protection Reception System (under the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations) approved an instruction to adopt “measures extraordinary assistance to people displaced from Ukraine”. In a first phase, which coincided with the wave of refugees, especially women and children, “pocket” aid was granted for emergencies. These included 50 euros per month per person and 20 euros for each child under 18 years of age; the cost of hygiene and infant food products and a maximum of 90 euros per person for clothing.

The Korsun family, who arrived in Soria in March 2022, is one of those who have denounced the situation. From the NGO that managed the aid (the Apip-Acam foundation) they were never told that they had a 40% discount on medical prescriptions. They found out about the bonus from a friend and have been able to use it since September of last year. As Ganna Korsun relates, “during the first four months we lived thanks to the solidarity of the people, then the NGO began to give me and my mother 50 euros a month for out-of-pocket expenses.” Although they do receive Spanish classes and are awaiting the allocation of a flat.

Financing for housing and food

The situation has worsened as the months have passed. Now, the Korsun family does not have money for the most elementary expenses. “They don’t give soap or shampoo or toothpaste, or compresses for personal hygiene, or help with clothes,” says Ganna. The family is waiting to move from the hostel where they are hosted to an apartment (a studio). When they move in, they will have an allowance of 520 euros for food, electricity and water, and around 480 euros for the apartment. These aids will be temporary: they will run out in six months. Finding work in Soria, they explain, is not easy.

The Government ordered a second phase in which the autonomous communities assume the management of these aids, which are subsidized. Royal Decree 673/2022, of August 1, regulates the procedure for obtaining said bonds, intended to finance the accommodation and food of Ukrainians with temporary protection. Article 7 of the regulation provides for an amount of “400 euros per month per adult who is the final recipient of the subsidies.” The aid has a maximum period of six months.

As of November 2022, according to the Ombudsman’s office, all the autonomous communities had applied for the aforementioned subsidies and the first payment had been made, except for Andalusia, the Basque Country and Castilla y León due to delays in the paperwork.

The Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations transferred 52 million euros in October to the autonomous communities to manage this aid, but at least three regions with a significant number of refugees in their territories (Valencian Community, Madrid and Catalonia) have not yet started delivering them, according to recent information collected in this medium.

Difficulties throughout the Union

A recent report has touched on the situation of Ukrainian refugees in Europe. The FRA report Fleeing Ukraine (The flight from Ukraine) collects the first-person account of approximately 14,500 people who have fled the war and settled in the European Union. The survey (carried out between August and September 2022 in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania and Slovakia) shows the practical difficulties refugees have in finding work or making ends meet. month.

Although 23% of respondents attend language courses, not knowing the language of the host country is the main reason why people drop out of education, do not work or have difficulties receiving healthcare. On the other hand, only 33% have a paid job and 33% of women do not work because they need to take care of their children or elderly or sick relatives. 48% affirm that their new job is below their educational level and 30% declare that they have been exploited at work. 79% have difficulty making ends meet due to the cost of living.

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