Ukrainians fleeing the civil war between the rump western government and de-facto breakaway eastern state have arrived in European Union member states in record numbers, as figures released by the EU show applications have surged by over 13 times the previous annual average.
The figures, reports theLocal.at, show the number of asylum seekers applying to come from European Union member state hopeful Ukraine stood at 14,040 last year, a sharp rise from the 1,060 who claimed refuge in 2013. The large number is dwarfed compared to the total of around a million Ukrainians who have been displaced by the conflict, with tens of thousands claiming asylum in Russia and Moldova.
Julia Zelvenska, a senior legal officer at the European Council on Refugees and Exiles told the news outlet that Europe should relax its rules on accepting refugees from the Ukraine, which are presently “very hard”. She said “We think it’s not necessary to apply all the criteria in a strict manner” when considering Ukrainians.
The distribution of the migrants was not equal across the nations of Europe, and the figures show the displaced were willing to travel across Europe to reach the right country. While Ukraine neighbour Poland had 2,275, Italy received 2,080 applications in 2014, up from just 35 the year before.
France, one of the most geographically remote nations from the war received 1,415 applications while closer country Hungary only had 35. There were 275 applications to the United Kingdom, a similar figure to the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Not all applications were accepted, however. Although 1,415 applications were made in France, they rejected 220.
The influx, in addition to the large number of people coming to Europe as refugees from North Africa and the Levant boosted 2014 to a record breaking year, as 626,000 applications were made.