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For refugees in Ukraine, Europe opens doors that cannot be closed to others

WASHINGTON – Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes and flee across the border to escape the violence. But unlike the refugees that have flooded Europe in crises over the past decade, they are being welcomed.

Countries that for years have resisted taking in refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are now opening their doors to Ukrainians as Russian forces launch a nationwide military offensive. According to United Nations estimates, perhaps 100,000 Ukrainians have fled their homes, and at least half of them have crammed onto trains, jammed highways or walked across their country’s borders in the process. The condition officials warn could become the world’s next refugee crisis.

United Nations and US officials describe their concerted diplomatic push to get Ukraine’s neighbors and other European nations to respond. President Biden is “certainly prepared” to accept refugees from Ukraine, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday, but she noted that the majority of them could will choose to stay in Europe so they can more easily return home when the fighting is over.

Filippo Grandi, head of the UN refugee agency, said: “Thank you very much to the governments and people of all countries for keeping their borders open and welcoming to refugees. He warned that “much more” Ukrainians were moving towards the border.

That means thousands will end up in countries led by nationalist governments that in previous crises have been reluctant to welcome refugees or even block them.

In Polandgovernment officials supported by US troops and diplomats have set up processing centers Ukrainians. Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said: “Whoever is fleeing from bombs and bullets, from Russian rifles, can count on the support of the Polish state. told reporters on Thursday. His government is spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the border wall, a project it started after refugees and migrants from the Middle East tried to reach the country last year but ended up being swept up in neighboring Belarus.

Army in Hungary is allowing Ukrainians to pass through parts of the border that have been closed. Hungary’s hardline prime minister, Viktor Orban, has previously appealed to refugees danger to his country, and his the government has been accused captive and starving them.

Farther West, Chancellor Karl Nehammer of Austria say “Of course we will take in refugees if necessary” in the context of the crisis in Ukraine. Most recently last fall, while serving as interior minister, Mr. Nehammer managed to intercept some Afghans seeking refuge after the Taliban toppled the government in Kabul.

“It’s different in Ukraine than in countries like Afghanistan,” he was quoted saying in an interview on a national television program. “We’re talking about helping the neighbors.”

Mr. Nehammer also said the expected number of Ukrainians seeking help was relatively small. At least 1.3 million people – mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – apply for asylum in Europe in 2015 during the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War, stretching national budgets and creating a backlash of political negativity in countries across the continent.

Some estimates predict that at least a million refugees will leave Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said on Thursday that the fighting can spit up to five million people“Put pressure on Ukraine’s neighbors.”

Diplomats and experts say European nations are ready to take on Ukrainians, possibly in part trying to highlight Russia’s aggression against civilians by issuing a humanitarian response religion. “If you think of triggering the refugee crisis as one of Putin’s tools to destabilize the West, that’s one response,” said Serena Parekh, professor at Northeastern University in Boston and director. being calm, efficient, and orderly is a really good rebuke to that,” said Serena Parekh, professor at Northeastern University in Boston and director. its political, philosophical and economic agenda.

“On the other hand,” said Ms. Parekh, who has written extensively on refugees, “it is hard not to see that Ukrainians are white, mostly Christian and European. And in a sense, the real xenophobia that has arisen in the last 10 years, especially after 2015, is not as effective in this crisis as it has been for incoming refugees. from the Middle East and from Africa. “

The Biden administration is also facing calls to accept Ukrainian refugees, in the same way they do for asylum or humanitarian parole. for more than 75,000 Afghans when the Taliban took power in August.

At least for now, it is less likely that the United States will offer a humanitarian parole program for Ukrainians higher than is currently allowed for total refugees in the current financial year. That number is limited to 125,000 years ago – includes 10,000 refugees from Europe and Central Asia. The guidelines set aside another 10,000 places for refugees from anywhere in the world, as regional emergencies warrant.

Psaki did not comment when asked by reporters if the administration would provide temporary residency protections, a program known as TPS, to Ukrainian students, workers and others already in the United States. to ensure they are not deported when their legal visa expires or not. .

“The war in Ukraine is exactly the kind of crisis that TPS was created for – to allow people to live and work in the United States when they cannot return home safely,” said Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat. owner of New Jersey and chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday night.

Psaki said the United States sent an estimated $52 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine last year to help people, mainly in the eastern Donbas region, where the current war began as a conflict. between the Ukrainian and Russian militaries backing the separatists in 2014. Nearly 1.5 million people were forced out of their homes due to fighting even before the invasion took place last week.

Additionally, the U.S. Agency for International Development sent a team of disaster experts to Poland this past week to assess the region’s aid needs — including water, food, shelter, medicine, and food. other supplies – and coordinate the supply. Hours after the invasion began, the United Nations announced it would transfer $20 million in emergency funds for humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, mostly to the Donbas region.

A European diplomat who is closely monitoring the flow of refugees from Ukraine said neighboring countries could also feel the pull of history in welcoming those in danger as a direct result of the conflict. Russian invasion. A Soviet crackdown on a Hungarian uprising in 1956For example, that has resulted in 200,000 refugees, most of whom fled to Austria before they settled in dozens of countries across Europe. From 80,000 to 100,000 VND the people – and perhaps more – left what was then Czechoslovakia to escape a Soviet invasion in 1968 that was launched to silence democracy advocates Spring rally in Prague.

In both cases, the United States sent aid to help European countries deal with refugees and, during the crisis in Hungary, “within a few months, there were no more refugees – they were found.” see a permanent home,” Ms. Parekh said.

It was largely the result of the United States working with European nations to resettle Hungarians, she said, calling the effort “an exception, historically.”

“It’s the same thing – people fleeing our Russian enemies – that motivated us,” she said.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/us/politics/ukraine-europe-refugees.html For refugees in Ukraine, Europe opens doors that cannot be closed to others

Fry Electronics Team

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