Poland prepares to accept Ukrainian refugees in case of war
Poland, the largest country in the European Union on the border with Ukraine, is preparing to accept Ukrainian refugees in the event of a new Russian attack on that country. But the Polish government hopes the worst-case scenario can be avoided.
Similar preparations are underway across the region, especially in countries that share borders with Ukraine.
While other countries are reducing their diplomatic missions in Ukraine, Poland says it is keeping its diplomatic operations in place for now in case they are needed to facilitate a large-scale exit of Ukrainians.
Poland, which has taken in large numbers of Ukrainian economic migrants in recent years, particularly after Russia’s incursions into Ukraine in 2014, has been planning for weeks to accept refugees should that happen, said Marcin Przydacz, deputy -Minister of Foreign Affairs.
While Poland has an image of being staunchly anti-refugee, this opposition is largely based on not wanting to welcome large numbers of people from different religious and racial backgrounds. Ukrainians – who, like Poles, are a Slavic people with a similar language and customs – have filled gaps in the labor market and have been widely welcomed to Poland in recent years.
Przydacz said in a radio interview on Monday that Poland hoped the situation in Ukraine would not worsen, but that the country was preparing for any eventuality, including the possibility of large numbers of refugees.
“In this worst-case scenario, we’re not talking about hundreds or thousands, but much larger numbers,” Przydacz said on Radio Plus.
He added that the Interior Ministry has been preparing “internal scenarios, infrastructure and plans” for many weeks.
Plans would include housing refugees in hostels, dormitories, sports facilities and other places.
Local officials, including town mayors, have been asked to write reports on what facilities they could make available, according to Krzysztof Kosinski, the mayor of Ciechanow, a Polish town near the border with Ukraine, and the secretary of the Association of Polish Cities. .
Ukraine, which is bordered by Belarus to the north and Russia to the east, also shares borders with EU countries Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, as well as the non-EU state of Moldova. Hungarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned on Saturday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees across the border into his country.
Meanwhile, Slovakia is also preparing for a wave of refugees in the event of a conflict. The government has prepared a plan what to do in such a scenario, but it is classified.
“According to existing studies and analyses, I can say that even a limited Russian military attack on Ukrainian territory would mean that tens of thousands of refugees cross our border,” said Slovak Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad.
Nad said those fleeing a war would be granted refugee status.
“From the perspective of the European continent, the current situation is the most dangerous since World War II,” Nad said.
Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan has offered to send police to help Slovakia in the event of such a conflict.
(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)