Sunday, December 4, 2022

‘A Wave Of Up To A Million’: Poland, Hungary, Israel Brace For Potential Surge Of Ukrainian Refugees

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Though Russia continues to deny plans of an invasion of Ukraine, its thousands of soldiers posted at the Ukrainian border have forced many countries to prepare for a large influx of Ukrainian refugees should Russia attack.

A displaced woman and a young boy sit in a bus before fleeing the Ukrainian city of Debaltseve, in … [+] the Donetsk region, on February 1, 2015. Civilians fleeing the besieged east Ukrainian town of Debaltseve came under withering artillery fire from pro-Russian separatists on February 1, with security forces vowing to fight to the end to defend the key transport hub. AFP PHOTO / MANU BRABO (Photo credit should read MANU BRABO/AFP via Getty Images)

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Key Facts

Polish interior minister Mariusz Kamiński tweeted Sunday the country is preparing for a “possible influx of refugees from Ukraine who, due to a possible conflict, may seek a safe haven in our country.”

The tweet follows last week’s statement from Poland’s deputy interior minister, Maciej Wasik, who told a Polish radio station the government has been preparing for “a wave of up to a million people,” potentially fleeing Ukraine, adding, “we absolutely won’t say no to helping them.”

Israeli officials are preparing to assist displaced Jewish Ukrainians as they did in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, according to the Washington Post.

Hungary’s nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, warned in an address Saturday of an influx of Ukrainian refugees for the bordering country should Russia invade, adding it would be in Hungary’s best interest to “avoid war,” according to the Associated Press.

The autocratic Orban has been staunchly opposed to welcoming refugees, creating a law in 2018 that said any lawyers or activists “facilitating illegal immigration” will face a year of prison time.

Key Background
It’s potentially the second refugee crisis Poland faces in a matter of months. In November, thousands of Middle-Eastern migrants were left stranded between Poland and neighboring Belarus, with the European Union accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of luring the refugees there as payback for the EU’s sanctions on his country.

What We Don’t Know
How the U.S. would handle a refugee crisis.The White House’s readout of President Joe Biden’s Sunday phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy did not mention the potential refugee crisis. The U.S. State Department and White House did not immediately respond to Forbes’ inquiry of whether the U.S. has followed suit with other nations by preparing for an influx of refugees. It’s also unclear how the European Union would respond, though in January, the EU’s commissioner for migration and home affairs and the commissioner for budget and administration were asked to present a concrete plan to prepare for an influx of Ukrainian refugees “so that the EU will not be taken by surprise or overwhelmed.”

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