EU Countries Prepare for Ukraine Refugees While ‘Humanitarian Superpower’ Sweden Refuses

PRZEMYSL, POLAND - FEBRUARY 24: Ukrainian citizens take an overnight rest in a temporary s
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Several European Union countries in central and eastern Europe say they are preparing for a wave of refugees for Ukraine, while “humanitarian superpower” Sweden has refused to take any.

Ukraine’s neighbour Poland, which has previously taken in large number of Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers after the 2014 Donbas war, has already set up working groups to determine the logistical challenges of helping those who flee from Ukraine. An estimated 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees already live in Poland.

Education Minister Przemyslaw Czarnek commented on the situation on Wednesday saying, “We are ready to welcome children and young people in schools and students in Polish universities,” the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reports. Germany has also stated that it will help Poland.

Slovakian Defense Minister Jaroslav Nad stated this week that his country, which also shares a border with Ukraine, was ready to take in refugees, as the country has set up four refugees camps to house the expected flow of people.

“If the situation requires it, we can also use the existing accommodation facilities of the Interior Ministry and other ministries,” Slovak Interior Minister Roman Mikulec said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has been firm on his stance against illegal immigration and is known for his tough border security stance, said his country would accept those fleeing from the conflict with Russia as well.

In Austria, Chancellor Karl Nehammer condemned the Russian military operations in Ukraine and said that Austria would help fleeing Ukrainians, noting that the border of Ukraine was closer to Vienna than the western Austrian city of Bregenz.

“Ukraine is different from countries like Afghanistan. We’re talking about neighbourhood help,” Nehammer said this week.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson also stated this week that the bloc was ready to support member states taking in Ukrainians saying, “We don’t know what would be the next step of [President Vladimir] Putin, but we have to be prepared if there will be a massive inflow of refugees of Ukrainians into the European Union.”

“We are looking into the support from the EU asylum agency with processing asylum applications, the support from Frontex with registration and border management, and the support from Europol as well,” Johansson added.

While countries that have been strict on their stances against mass migration and illegal immigration have pledged to help Ukrainian refugees, the so-called “humanitarian superpower” Sweden, has stated that it will not open its borders to those fleeing the conflict.

Swedish Primer Minister Magdalena Andersson told Swedish media last week that other countries should take responsibility for Ukrainian refugees.

The statement was criticised this week by the heads of the youth movements of the Centre Party and the Liberal Party who stated, “Magdalena Andersson was clear in a statement to Dagens Nyheter on February 18 that if a refugee crisis arises, it is the responsibility of other European countries to offer security to those fleeing. It is a remarkable statement from a Prime Minister who says he wants to represent a humanitarian superpower.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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