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US envoy calls Poland ‘humanitarian superpower’ for helping Ukraine

23.02.2023 21:00
The US ambassador in Warsaw has described Poland as “a humanitarian superpower” for the way the nation has welcomed refugees from war-torn Ukraine. 
Mark Brzezinski.
Mark Brzezinski.PAP/Rafał Guz

Mark Brzezinski made the remark at the launch of the United Nations' Regional Refugee Response for the Ukraine Situation programme in Warsaw on Thursday, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

The programme is designed to provide further support to people who have been fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine to Poland, under the auspices of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, officials said.

UNHCR, representatives of the Polish government, officials and NGOs issued a call for additional funds to the tune of USD 709 million to continue assistance to refugees from Ukraine based in Poland in 2023, the PAP news agency reported.

In his speech, the US ambassador said the event represented a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the way the Polish community has responded to the needs of refugees from Ukraine., the PAP news agency reported.

Poland is ‘a humanitarian superpower’: US envoy

Brzezinski thanked Poland for the assistance extended to Ukrainian people and said that over the past 12 months, Poland has proved to be “a humanitarian superpower.”

The US ambassador added that the welcome extended to Ukrainian refugees by the Polish people was a real expression of solidarity, cooperation, partnership and compassion in times of crisis, according to PAP.

In an interview with PAP afterwards, the US envoy said that Poland’s support had been “incredibly generous, really a message from the heart, from the Polish people to your neighbors in Ukraine.”

Brzezinski stressed: “There is nothing more valuable and personal that one can do than to literally open their home or their apartment to a neighbor in need. And that is what the people of Poland have done.”

He added: “It is an awesome, awesome extension of generosity that the world sees.”

The US envoy also stressed America’s "unwavering support" for Ukraine and its people. He said: “We are doing everything we can to help them survive and to live and to be able to defend themselves against an unprovoked, cruel attack.”

‘We stand in solidarity with Poland as a host country’: UN official

The UNHCR’s Kevin Allen hailed Poland’s "extraordinary solidarity" in the face of Europe’s biggest refugee exodus since World War II, PAP reported.  

Allen declared: "Notwithstanding the challenges that lie ahead, on behalf of the 83 partners that form part of this appeal I want to underscore that we stand in solidarity with refugees forced to flee Ukraine and stand in solidarity with Poland as a host country.”

‘Collective effort of the entire society’: Polish official

Meanwhile, Polish Deputy Interior Minister Paweł Szefernaker welcomed the UNHCR's initiative, saying that now part of refugee support would be provided “by an organisation that knows how to do it and that helps war refugees from Ukraine.”

He added that Poland was able to welcome millions of refugees from Ukraine "only thanks to a collective effort of the entire society."

He said Poles "opened their hearts and homes on an unprecedented scale," while "private companies supported humanitarian efforts."

He added that local governments in areas near Ukraine "were the first to help," while "big cities, including all the provincial capitals, welcomed the biggest number of refugees in the past year."

Szefernaker told the conference that last year, over 600,000 refugees received "basic cash support," over 530,000 refugee children "received access to textbooks and educational materials," more than 670,000 refugees "were informed about their rights and available support," and "over 260,000 were provided with information about access to healthcare."  

The deputy interior minister added that some 80 percent of war refugees had taken jobs in Poland, and at one point more than 200,000 Ukrainian children were attending Polish schools. 

Szefernaker also said that "despite the crisis caused by the war" and “the fatigue that is inevitable in such situations,” 80 percent of Polish people were backing the government’s policy of supporting refugees from Ukraine.

“It’s a success for us all,” he said.

Szefernaker renewed Poland’s call for the European Union to set up “a special fund” to provide financial assistance to countries hosting refugees from Ukraine, the PAP news agency reported. 

Poland welcomes millions of refugees from Ukraine

A deputy prime minister said in December that Poland was home to more than 2 million Ukrainians after many who had fled Russia's invasion moved on to other countries or decided to return to Ukraine.

In March last year, Poland enacted a measure to offer wide-ranging support to Ukrainians escaping the Russian invasion of their country, which began on February 24, 2022.

The measure grants them residence rights and ensures access to education, healthcare and social benefits.

Seventy-eight percent of Poles are in favour of accepting refugees from war-torn Ukraine, according to a survey published earlier this month.

Thursday is day 365 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: IAR, PAP, 300polityka.pl