The proposal, expected to be approved, is based on a law drawn up in the aftermath of the Balkan wars

Nearly 875,000 people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its brutal attack less than a week ago, according to the UN refugee agency, which has warned that 4 million could leave the country in the coming weeks and months.

More than half (454,000) have fled to Poland, while 116,000 have gone to Hungary, 67,000 to Slovakia, 45,000 to Romania and 79,000 to non-EU Moldova, Europe’s poorest country.

The EU plan, which is expected to be approved on Thursday by the bloc’s 27 member states, would grant Ukrainian nationals and permanent residents the right to live, work, access healthcare, housing and education immediately for up to one year, without the requirement to go through lengthy asylum procedures. If the conflict continues, or refugees cannot return safely, that status could be extended for a further two years.

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