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Ukraine loss will mean explosion in refugee numbers

11 April 20240 comments

Ten million extra refugees could be the result of a Russian victory in the war in Ukraine.

This is the view of German migration expert Gerald Knaus, who says this scenario could be ‘Horrific” in terms of the humanitarian crisis it will present.

“If Putin gets his way and Ukraine loses the war, this could turn an additional ten million people into refugees,” Mr Knaus told German media.

Russia is attempting an increasing number of incursions into Ukraine’s territory.

Both sides are launching destructive missiles and drones, but it seems Russia’s offensive and is better equipped, with US military aid for Ukraine blocked in Congress.

In a disturbing move, Russia has recently begun to refer to the conflict as a war, and not as a “special military operation.”

“If large cities such as Kharkiv and others are now destroyed, if the number of victims rises and hope falls, then we may experience the world’s largest refugee movement since the 1940s,” said Mr Knaus, co-founder of the Berlin-based think tank European Stability Initiative.

Other observers have cited lower estimates of potential refugees, but most agree an increase in the numbers is probable if the war continues to escalate.

More than two years ago, when the Russian army attacked the whole of Ukraine in violation of international law, there was almost universal support in Germany and much of Europe.

Currently, Ukrainians do not have to go through the normal bureaucratic asylum procedure in Germany, can start work straight away. They are also entitled to social benefits, medical care, and language courses.

According to local support agencies, around 1.15 million of the 4.3 million Ukraine war refugees are currently in Germany, and the number is rising.

Conservative politicians in Germany have expressed concern about increased numbers, saying the country will reach a limit in its capacity to accept more refugees.

Russia’s war against Ukraine is claiming more and more victims. It is continuing to create refugees and displaced persons. This will only increase if Russia wins, or annexes more of the country permanently.

Mr Knaus said the EU had not prepared for the worst-case scenario that could follow.

He said politicians of all persuasions in Germany are in a difficult position because increasing numbers of people from other countries are also applying for protection in Germany, with some estimates saying further 300,000 asylum applications could be lodged this year this year.

“This also directly affects Ukrainian war refugees, for whom there will then be a lack of accommodation and, in particular, integration capacities,” Mr Knaus said.

Some local authorities in Germany are already saying that they are at the limit of their capacity to accept refugees.

Observers say that if the number of people from Ukraine increases significantly again, it will spark another polarising migration debate in Germany.

But all agree that providing Ukraine with adequate military support so that no more people are forced to flee the conflict.