Eastern European countries announce plans to host refugees fleeing Ukraine

Ten million have fled their homes in Ukraine: UN

Feb 27, 2022: According to a report by Al Jazeera, many Eastern European countries have announced plans to host millions of people fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are gathering at the country’s border crossings with Poland, Romania and Moldova. Many of these countries, which in recent years have taken a hard line on refugees from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, have taken a decidedly different approach, pledging to host and assist their Ukrainian neighbors.

Greece, an entry point for hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and unrest from Syria and Afghanistan in recent years, also made pledges of support for Ukrainian citizens and those arriving in Ukraine’s neighbours.

The country has in recent years faced criticism for heavily documented pushbacks of asylum seekers from its land and sea borders.

In addition to states, multiple humanitarian agencies have issued statements expressing their commitment to displaced Ukrainians asking countries to keep their borders open to refugees seeking shelter.

“UNHCR is also working with governments in neighbouring countries, calling on them to keep borders open to those seeking safety and protection. We stand ready to support efforts by all to respond to any situation of forced displacement,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu said her country’s borders are open to Ukrainian citizens and will help those who are reaching, with their “humanitarian needs”. Poland, which has taken a hard line against migration in recent years, has announced its readiness to take “as many as we can on our borders”. Hungary, which has taken a similarly hostile stance to refugees from countries such as Syria in recent years, has promised to remain open to those fleeing Ukraine.

“We’re prepared to take care of them, and we’ll be able to rise to the challenge quickly and efficiently,” said Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban who has previously described migrants arriving in Europe as a “poison”.

Poland – which faced fierce criticism from human rights groups for its treatment of asylum seekers who were pushed to the Belarusian border by Belarusian authorities, including the legalisation of pushbacks last November – has taken a decidedly different stance this time.

More than 115,000 refugees have crossed into Poland, the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Saturday. Anyone from Ukraine is allowed entry, even those who do not hold valid passports, Polish officials said.

The United Nations Refugee Agency says more than 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have left the country since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday.

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