Andrzej Duda and Joe Biden visited the charity workers as Poland continues to bear the brunt of the humanitarian exodus following Russia’s attack on Ukraine, news agencies reported.
After the meeting in Rzeszów, the Polish president said that “most of the people fleeing the war, over 2 million, have found shelter in Poland."
Duda thanked everyone providing refugees with help and support, including charities from Poland, the United States and elsewhere.
'Warm regards from my wife'
Addressing his US counterpart, Duda said: “I would also like to thank President Biden very much for his support and ask him to convey my personal thanks to the US First Lady Jill Biden, with warm regards from my wife.”
He added that the two first ladies have spoken recently, after which Poland's Agata Kornhauser-Duda visited America, returning with “a huge amount of medical equipment and medicines for Ukrainian hospitals and Polish facilities where children from Ukraine are treated.”
“We are enormously grateful for this assistance, which was provided so swiftly,” the Polish president said.
The Polish first lady is seeking to build a global coalition of leaders’ wives in support of the victims of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to officials.
‘Big challenge for the free world’
Duda also thanked the Polish people for “opening their hearts and homes to … our neighbours, brothers from Ukraine.”
“We are doing everything in our power” to help refugees, he added, paying tribute to “the massive dedication of charities, volunteers, firefighters, the great help provided by the Catholic Church and other religious communities.”
The Polish president also said that welcoming those fleeing the war “is a big challenge for the free world that we must all meet,” the PAP news agency reported.
Meanwhile, Biden announced that the United States "is prepared to provide an additional USD 1 billion for humanitarian assistance and welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and others fleeing Russian aggression."
Biden to hold talks with Duda, address Polish people
Biden arrived in Poland earlier on Friday, landing at Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport in the southeast of the country.
He is making the two-day trip to discuss the West's response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the humanitarian crisis the war has created, officials have said.
After being greeted by Poland's Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, the US leader visited American troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stationed in Rzeszów.
Biden’s visit to Poland continues on Saturday, when he is scheduled to meet with Duda again for talks at the presidential palace in Warsaw.
On Saturday afternoon, the US president is expected to make an address to the Polish people outside the capital’s Royal Castle.
According to the White House, he will speak about “the united efforts of the free world to support the people of Ukraine, hold Russia accountable for its brutal war, and defend a future that is rooted in democratic principles."
Also on Saturday, Biden is set to visit a refugee support centre at Warsaw’s National Stadium alongside Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, officials told reporters.
Friday was day 30 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Poland on Friday reported it had welcomed 2.24 million refugees fleeing Russia's attack on Ukraine.
Poland’s president this month signed into law a measure to offer wide-ranging support to Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion of their country, which began on February 24.
The measure grants them legal residence in Poland and ensures access to education, healthcare and social benefits.
Source: IAR, PAP