Ukraine's neighbours appeal to Europe for help with refugees

The nations that are receiving the most Ukrainian refugees are finding their resources stretched by the situation and want to ask the European Union for more solutions to deal with the crisis
Un oficial de policía ucraniano está abrumado por la emoción después de consolar a las personas evacuadas de Irpin en las afueras de Kyiv, Ucrania, el  26 de marzo de 2022 AP/VADIM GHIRDA

AP/VADIM GHIRDA  -   A Ukrainian police officer is overcome with emotion after consoling people evacuated from Irpin on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, 26 March 2022.

The war in Ukraine and the Russian invasion of the country is forcing millions of Ukrainian citizens to flee their homes in search of refuge. The latest data collected by the UN - the United Nations World Organisation - confirms that more than 3.9 million people have crossed the borders into neighbouring countries such as Poland, Moldova, Romania and some others. The situation is so serious that these countries have been overwhelmed and have had to call on the European Union to help them cope with the influx of Ukrainians.

Both Nancy Weiser, Germany's Interior Minister, and Mariusz Kaminsky, Poland's Interior Minister, have made an urgent appeal to the European Commission to contain the influx of refugees into their respective countries. The two ministers sent a joint letter to European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and another to European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

El vicepresidente de la Comisión Europea, Margaritis Schinas, durante una sesión plenaria del Parlamento Europeo en Estrasburgo  AFP/JULIEN WARNAND
AFP/JULIEN WARNAND - European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas during a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

The document asks Europe to provide them with substantial financial support to cope with this massive influx of people, as well as a preferential majority monetary distribution compared to other countries in the European organisation that are not receiving the same number of Ukrainians. 

Niños en un centro de refugiados en Nadarzyn, cerca de Varsovia, Polonia, el 25 de marzo de 2022 AP/PETR DAVID JOSEK
AP/PETR DAVID JOSEK - Children at a refugee centre in Nadarzyn, near Warsaw, Poland, on 25 March 2022.

The ministers propose that the UNHCR and the Commission provide an amount of 1,000 euros for each refugee, which would be spent mainly on housing these people. With this aid, the executives stress that it would create a better coordination of the situation, as both Germany and Poland are being severely affected and their resources are running out faster with more and more refugees coming in. They have also added that they require assistance in identifying those who travel without documents to the countries' borders.

"Our ministries and shelter capacity will not be sufficient to cope with the massive influx of people," Weiser and Kaminsky recalled. "Our financial needs are estimated at several billion euros, so additional support is urgently required," the ministers continued in the letter.

Refugiados ucranianos reciben comida en la estación central de trenes de Varsovia, Polonia, el 27 de marzo de 2022 AP/CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI
AP/CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI - Ukrainian refugees receive food at the central train station in Warsaw, Poland, on 27 March 2022.

The war in Ukraine is only a month old, and the Polish minister points out that Poland has received more than two million people who have fled the conflict. In the German case, the German Interior Ministry claims to have received almost 267,000 Ukrainians. Weiser states that efforts are being made to distribute aid to them, but that this is proving impossible and resources will become scarce if they are not helped. The Polish Interior Ministry has estimated the costs of dealing with the conflict to be at least 2.2 billion euros.

Refugiados caminan en el paso fronterizo de Medyka, al sureste de Polonia, tras huir de la guerra de la vecina Ucrania, el 27 de marzo de 2022 AP/SERGEI GRITS
AP/SERGEI GRITS - Refugees walk at the Medyka border crossing in southeastern Poland after fleeing the war in neighbouring Ukraine on 27 March 2022.

For its part, the EU is trying to respond to the situation as quickly as possible. Interior ministers from all EU member states are holding consultations in Brussels to find a solution on how to deal with the Ukrainian refugees.

In addition, both Europe and Canada are working together on the problem and have announced that an international fundraising campaign will be launched. It will end on 9 April with a conference to discuss how to allocate the money raised in a fair and orderly way. 

La Comisaria Europea de Asuntos de Interior, Ylva Johansson, en el centro, habla con voluntarios del Departamento de Situaciones de Emergencia tras visitar un campo de refugiados que huyen del conflicto de la vecina Ucrania en la frontera rumano-ucraniana, en Siret, Rumanía, el lunes 28 de febrero de 2022 AP/ANDREA ALEXANDRU
AP/ANDREA ALEXANDRU - European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, centre, speaks with volunteers from the Emergency Situations Department after visiting a camp for refugees fleeing the conflict in neighbouring Ukraine at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, Romania, Monday, Feb. 28, 2022

"The campaign seeks to mobilise governments, institutions, artists, businesses and individuals to allocate funds to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries," confirmed a press release signed by Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, and Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.

Una mujer evacuada de Irpin se cubre la cara abrumada por la emoción en las afueras de Kyiv, Ucrania, el sábado 26 de marzo de 2022 AP/VADIM GHIRDA
AP/VADIM GHIRDA - A woman evacuated from Irpin covers her face overwhelmed with emotion on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, March 26, 2022.

The United States is also joining the cause, and has already pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees leaving their homes. The US Congress has just approved a $13.6 billion budget that will go exclusively to the Ukrainians, as well as military aid and arms shipments for those defending their homeland.