First Flights of Ukrainian Refugees Depart From Moldova to EU Member States

The first flights of Ukrainian refugees have departed from Moldova, heading to European Union Member Countries.

The move, backed by the EU and the Member States, has been praised by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

In a statement issued on March 22 by the UNHCR, it was announced that the Agency is identifying vulnerable persons in Moldova and is cooperating with IOM, the European Commission, and other EU member states so that this refugee transfer can go as smoothly as possible, reports.

UNHCR is also in constant contact with all Ukrainian refugees informing them of what awaits them in the host countries in order to enable them to be informed.

“UNHCR is grateful for this initiative of responsibility sharing and solidarity with people fleeing Ukraine and those hosting them in the Republic of Moldova,” Gonzalo Vargas Llosa, UNHCR’s Representative for EU Affairs, pointed out.

At the same time, IOM is providing a safe and regular movement for all departures by providing pre-departure information, distribution of personal protective equipment (PEEs), baggage handling, land transfer, and airport assistance.

In addition, the European Commission has set up the Solidarity Platform in order to support the EU Member States and related countries in sharing responsibility for the reception of Ukrainian refugees in the context of the Temporary Protection Directive.

Austria volunteered to launch a pilot project and pledged to accept 2,000 refugees with specific protection needs as part of the Solidarity Platform.

In this regard, IOM Chief of Mission in Moldova, Lars Johan Lönnback, congratulated the Austrian Government on Starting Movement for Vulnerable Ukrainian Refugees.

“The most vulnerable refugees will be prioritised for transfer, including people with disabilities, older people, those with severe medical conditions, and mothers with young children. Unaccompanied and separated children will only be transferred following best interest procedures and family tracing, as reuniting children with their families and caretakers is the priority. Safeguards against smuggling and trafficking networks will also be included,” the statement also reads.

Organisations have praised the expression of solidarity, easing pressure on Moldova as national capacities become increasingly strained while offering solutions to the most vulnerable refugees fleeing Ukraine.

So far, Moldova has counted more than 370,000 Ukrainian refugees who have arrived on its territory since the beginning of the war.

>> Timeline of Ukrainian Refugees Reaching EU Countries Amid Russian Invasion

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