(Bloomberg) -- The war in Ukraine risks sparking a food shortage crisis that would trigger a major migration wave into Europe from Africa and the Middle East, the EU’s migration chief said.
European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said severe shortages would lead people looking for food to head north in a much more chaotic fashion than the migration of millions of Ukrainians sparked by the initial invasion.
A hunger-driven migration is “not going to be so manageable, it’s going to be more messy,” Schinas said in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He pointed to the prospect of migrants trying to make their way by boat, adding, “We have a global interest in in avoiding this.”
The European Union had been planning for major migration waves at the start of the pandemic and following the U.S. exit from Afghanistan but those didn’t come to pass.
Schinas said unblocking the ports in Ukraine, where 20 million tons of wheat are stuck, wouldn’t solve the problem but would send a positive signal to markets and start to ease the broader crisis.
Schinas also said he expects the 2.7 million Ukrainian refugees registered under an EU protection scheme to stay in the bloc. So far, he said he hasn’t seen an uptick in support for far-right political parties, as was the case after the migration crisis in 2015, when more than a million refugees fled the war in Syria.
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