The world watched in shock and concern as the Russia-Ukraine conflict erupted on February 24, 2022, leading to widespread instability and displacement. The dastardly war unleashed by Russia has created a wave of humanitarian crises in neighboring countries. The European Union, as well as its individual member states, have joined forces and developed a legal framework for the long-term stay of refugees.
A Humanitarian Crisis Unfolds
The conflict in Eastern Europe has given rise to a humanitarian crisis, with countless individuals forced to flee their homes in search of safety and stability. While many have sought refuge within Ukraine, others have crossed borders in search of sanctuary. Lithuania, situated on the eastern border of the European Union, has been one such destination, welcoming those seeking safety from the horrors of war.
Legal Framework for Asylum Seekers
Lithuania, like other EU member states, adheres to international and EU legal frameworks that protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Key elements of Lithuania’s legal framework for asylum seekers include:
- Asylum Application Process: Individuals arriving in Lithuania with the intent of seeking asylum must follow a formal application process. After arriving in Lithuania, a person must register with the local government to be registered as a refugee. After this, the local administration decides on providing the applicant with a place to live or compensation for rent, as well as calculating benefits and providing social benefits.
- Non-refoulement: Under international law, Lithuania is prohibited from returning asylum seekers to a country where they could face persecution or harm. This principle of non-refoulement is a cornerstone of refugee protection.
- Reception Conditions: Lithuania provides asylum seekers with accommodation, food, and healthcare like other EU states. These conditions allow refugees to live in the country until peace is restored in Ukraine.
- Access to Legal Representation: Asylum seekers have the right to legal representation during the asylum process. Many volunteers, legal aid, and support organizations work to ensure that individuals understand their rights and can present their cases effectively.
- Appeals Process: Asylum seekers have the right to appeal negative decisions on their asylum applications. Sometimes it happens that a negative decision is made due to erroneous or incorrectly filled-in data. In this case, it is recommended to seek help from organizations supporting refugees from Ukraine to correct applications. After which you can file an appeal against the previous decision.
The Impact of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
The war unleashed by Russia has deprived hundreds of thousands of people of their homes and pushed millions out of the country. At the same time, it has created a great burden for host countries.
The protracted nature of this conflict, with no end in sight, has forced European countries to adjust their legislation. If initially refugees were provided with support for a year, then this period was subsequently extended, and the process of finding a job for Ukrainian refugees was simplified. This helps in solving the problem of labor shortage.
There are already assumptions being made that a significant portion of refugees from Ukraine may remain in host countries.
Lithuania has a complex history. After its occupation by Soviet Russia, hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians were deported from the country, many were forced to flee persecution. And in the current situation, many descendants of Lithuanians (both in Ukraine and in Russia) have remembered their ancestors. For those who have Lithuanian ancestors and want to obtain a Lithuanian citizenship Lithuania provides the opportunity to obtain it – this is spelled out in legislation. Thus, this conflict may in the long term lead to an increase in population in European countries and in Lithuania in particular.
A Beacon of Hope
For many who were forced to flee the horrors of war, Lithuania became a beacon of hope and a welcoming second home. Lithuania’s dedication to defending the rights of refugees from unjust hostilities demonstrates the significance of having customary values and the want for nations around the world to put such frequent values first.
Lithuania’s dedication to defending the rights of refugees from unjust hostilities demonstrates the significance of having customary values and the want for nations around the world to put such frequent values first. Lithuania remains committed to the ideas of humanity and justice and will continue to provide support to refugees from a cruel and unjust war.