Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and Moldovan authorities brought together European and international partners to discuss the changing situation at the borders following the outbreak of Russia’s unjustified invasion of Ukraine.
In the aftermath, more than 6 million Ukrainian nationals have entered the EU since Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February. Countries neighbouring Ukraine are particularly affected by the those fleeing the war and crossing the border.
“We are bringing together relevant authorities of the EU, Ukraine and Moldova to discuss challenges posed by the war and the strengthening of border management amid the unprecedented security crisis,” said Frontex Deputy Executive Director Lars Gerdes.
“Together we protect Europe, shoulder to shoulder, on the spot,” he added.
Opening the conference, Moldova’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Ana Revenco, underlined the need to consolidate the extended border of the European Union and anticipate threats to security: “We have to build a trustworthy, resilient and sustainable ecosystem together to respond to the current challenges. Cooperation between the judiciary and law enforcement is key to protect people in need and ensure security.”
Deputy Director-General of the European Commssion, Olivier Onidi, added: “This conference is very timely, a few days after the EU formally recognised Ukraine and Moldova as candidate countries for the European Union.”
Amid the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine, EU Member States and institutions are doing their utmost to quickly and efficiently support refugees, but also the affected neighbouring countries.
Organised in Chisinau, Moldova, the conference gathered representatives from law enforcement and border authorities of the Member States, EU institutions, and international organisations. Representatives of Ukraine also took part in the event, including General Serhii Deineko, Head of Border Guard Service of Ukraine, who told the audience how the Ukrainian border guards were helping defend the country.
During the event, the participants shared lessons learned from their respective operational responses to the war in Ukraine, including how to protect fundamental rights of those fleeing the war, as well as discussed the impact of the war on cross-border crime. Majority of the people fleeing Ukraine are women and children. This poses an increased risk of trafficking in human beings and the participants gathered during the event spoke about measures undertaken by EU and national authorities to counter this and other types of cross-border crime.
The measures undertaken by European Member States and institutions include operational support by Frontex, the introduction of the temporary protection mechanism by the European Commission and relocations of asylum seekers from Moldova to EU Member States.
Frontex launched its first operation in Moldova in March this year, following the signing of a status agreement between the EU and Moldovan authorities. The agency currently has 59 standing corps officers deployed to Moldova, who have helped the national authorities process the flow of refugees from Ukraine. Frontex has also deployed officers to other countries neighbouring Ukraine to support them with responding to the crisis.