Child poverty, impact of Russian invasion: EU’s biggest challenges in 2022

Vienna, Jun 8 (EFE).- The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the creation of millions of refugees, and rising child poverty were two of the major human rights challenges that the European Union faced in 2022, according to a report published on Thursday.

“Once again, Europe faced another year of tremendous turmoil and upheaval. In 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine triggering events and suffering Europe had long hoped not to relive,” the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) said in its summary.

The report said that out of the 8 million people who fled Ukraine after Russia invaded and arrived in Europe, some 4 million have received temporary protection, guaranteeing them a series of rights and benefits.

However, the FRA added there have been cases of sexual and gender-based violence, trafficking, discrimination, xenophobic disinformation and hate speech recorded since the start of the war with minorities or marginalized groups, such as Roma, particularly vulnerable to unequal treatment or abuse.

Moreover, the fact that many want to stay in European territory or are undecided about whether to do so makes it necessary to establish long-term measures related to housing, employment, or education, according to the FRA.

It said that the majority of the refugees are women in charge of children or relatives and therefore need gender-specific responses.

The main ways to help these “victims of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine”, as defined by the FRA, are to provide them with safe and affordable housing and suitable jobs, integrate their children in schools or nurseries, and offer shelter to victims of violence and sexual exploitation.

It also warned that the number of children at risk of poverty and social exclusion continued to rise in 2022, as energy prices and the inflation placed an additional burden on households.

The report noted that in recent years the EU has taken several important steps to tackle child poverty, notably through the European Child Guarantee, which aims to “prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing effective access of children in need to a set of key services.”

Although child poverty had been declining before 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted this with the proportion of children at risk of poverty or social exclusion rising from 22.8 percent in 2019 to 24 percent in 2020, and 24.4 percent in 2021.

Hate speech, mostly online, remained another major problem last year, with the majority of cases FRA identified related to Ukrainian speakers, but also Russian speakers or persons perceived as Russians.

The FRA criticized the fact that only half of EU countries have anti-racism action plans.

In addition, the agency said stronger protection of fundamental rights is needed due to the rapid advance of technologies and artificial intelligence. EFE


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