BRUSSELS: The European Union’s executive arm on Tuesday proposed extending the right of refugees from Ukraine to stay in the bloc by a year to March 2025.

The EU triggered its temporary protection directive days after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine to allow the millions of people fleeing to remain.

“This will provide certainty and support for more than four million persons enjoying protection across the EU,” the European Commission said in a statement.

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Russia’s war on its pro-Western neighbour has dragged on with no sign of abating for almost 19 months, with Moscow launching strikes on civilian infrastructure across Ukraine.

The initial measure was set to run until March 2024.

The commission said it should “be prolonged as a necessary and appropriate response to the current, volatile situation, which is not yet conducive to the safe and durable return” of refugees.

The measure gives Ukrainians in the EU access to the job market, medical care and education.

The proposal will now need to be approved by all 27 EU countries. There is not expected to be any major opposition.

The sudden displacement of millions of Ukrainians last year represented the fastest-growing refugee crisis faced by Europe since World War II.

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