Russian invasion of Ukraine could trigger new refugee influx in EU, say experts

Polish interior minister considering possibility of accepting refugees in case of war in Ukraine.

Russian invasion of Ukraine could trigger new refugee influx in EU, say experts

The possible invasion of Ukraine by Russia is expected to lead to a new influx of refugees in the heart of Europe, say experts.

Poland, a country with barely any experience in dealing with refugees, is expected to be the most affected by the influx.

In view of this, the Polish authorities are preparing for various case scenarios.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski announced that regional administrations and municipalities are considering the possibility of accepting refugees in case of war in Ukraine.

Polish Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wasik also said that they are considering the possibility of nearly one million Ukrainian refugees coming to the country.

"The Polish government will act in solidarity with Ukraine. Under the Geneva Convention, these people will be under Polish protection and we will never say no to people who need help," Wasik stated.

Agnieszka Kosowicz, head of the Polish Migration Forum, a non-governmental organization that supports Polish migrant rights, said that the 10 centers operated by the Polish Immigration Office have a total capacity of 2,000 people. Currently, 800 people are living there, she said.

Jan Piekto, former ambassador of Poland to Ukraine, said there were more than a million Ukrainians who came in search of work and are an active part of Polish society. However, Piekto said an influx of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing war and death is not something Poland can afford.

The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) also stated that the EU and Visegrad Group officials should evaluate whether the first reception and transit countries are ready for the refugee influx in case of a possible invasion.

Poland has a border with Ukraine longer than 482 kilometers (230 miles) and there are more than 10 transition shadows on the border. Poland is already a preferred country due to its geographical proximity, relatively higher salaries and other factors.

CEPA pointed out that Poland, like other EU countries, will not open its arms to Ukrainian asylum seekers.

"While the Polish prime minister expresses his solidarity with Ukraine, it is unclear whether this will lead to easing Poland's harsh policies on asylum. After Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2015, Poland refused 99% of Ukrainian citizens' asylum requests," the statement said.

Hüseyin Demir

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