Millions fleeing Ukraine

The United Nations estimates that up to four million people may flee the war in Ukraine. More than three million refugees have already reached the borders of neighbouring Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary. Commentators urge people to make the necessary preparations to receive the refugees - and also to think of those fleeing Russia.

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Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

Prepare for further challenges

The situation is anything but clear, Rzeczpospolita comments:

“It is difficult to say anything for sure today. Who is housed where? How many people have a roof over their heads in the long term, and how many in the short term? How many of the refugees will stay longer in Poland, and how many will go further west? How many are able to cope on their own, and how many need care and support? ... Time is pressing, because we may soon have a problem with a 'second wave' of migration. A considerable number of refugees have so far only been given temporary accommodation in hotels and guesthouses.”

Politiken (DK) /

Many Russians also need asylum

Due to a special clause in the Maastricht Treaty, the status granted by the EU to refugees from Ukraine does not automatically apply in Denmark. A special law to this effect is to be passed on Friday. Russian refugees should also be considered, Politiken demands:

“Several parties point out that Russian and Belarusian soldiers who do not want to fight in the war against Ukraine should also be covered by such a special law. That is correct and important. And it should also apply to Russians who reject Putin's policies. ... Although political asylum for deserters from a war condemned by all Western international organisations now seems self-evident, history shows that this is not [always] the case.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Another exodus from a cruel regime

The emigration of many Russians critical of the Kremlin is reminiscent of those who fled the Nazis, writes Christophe Deloire, Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, and Mikhail Zygar, former editor-in-chief of the independent Russian broadcaster Dozhd, in Le Monde:

“The exodus currently taking place in Russia is comparable to the massive wave of people leaving Germany in the 1930s: those who questioned Hitler's policies fled the country. Among them were Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Marlene Dietrich and Thomas Mann, as well as thousands of anonymous people. Like them, Russian exiles are leaving their destroyed homeland today. The fight they have long been fighting for freedom and democracy has been lost today.”

Avgi (GR) /

Solidarity has an expiry date

The EU will soon start taking a tougher stance towards refugees from Ukraine, Avgi predicts:

“At a time when another war has broken out even closer to us, the solidarity the Europeans have shown with the refugees from Ukraine in the first few days will not only quickly disappear, but the EU's attitude towards all refugees will harshen. The time when the walls and barbed wire will be used to stop Ukrainians as well is not far off. Britain has already shown how it treats those who try to seek refuge there. Other countries will soon follow in its footsteps. Their solidarity and humanitarianism have a limit and an expiry date, as in any war. Therefore, the only hope remains to end the war.”

Interia (PL) /

A return to historical normality

Interia sees Poland facing major social upheaval:

“Some of the refugees will probably move on to other countries in the European Union. They will try to improve their lot elsewhere. Many, however, will stay with us. Considering the scale of the migration, we must probably reckon with a million new citizens. ... This doesn't seem exaggerated. Ultimately, it means a huge demographic and cultural change - and in a way a return to Polish normality, because the First and Second Polish Republics were, after all, multicultural states.”

Primorske novice (SI) /

We can all help

A growing number of refugees from Ukraine are also arriving in Slovenia. Primorske novice calls for measures to facilitate their integration:

“There will certainly be a great need for psychological counselling. Women and children are coming to us who have left part of their family behind in Ukraine, who fear for the father's life and who have to find their way around in a completely new environment. We can all help them a little in overcoming these challenges. ... We can help by being open to the children who start attending our kindergartens and schools, by making friends with them and being kind to the mothers who are looking for work and may perhaps become our colleagues.”

Új Szó (SK) /

Not a sprint but a marathon

Staying power will now be required to deal with the refugees, notes Új Szó:

“Hopefully the momentum [of willingness to help] will last. Because unfortunately this crisis will be a marathon, not a sprint. We should be careful to avoid a repetition of what happened to the health workers [during the pandemic]. In the beginning they were applauded, but later they were left at the mercy of anti-vaxxer attacks. In this crisis, too, people will start to complain. As petrol becomes more expensive and more and more refugees arrive, the finger-pointing will soon begin.”

Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

We need you

Lithuania should welcome the refugees with open arms, Lietuvos rytas advises:

“While the Ukrainians are shedding their blood for Europe's freedom, it sounds a bit selfish to talk about the benefits of the incoming refugees for our labour market. ... The Ukrainians are now being offered over a thousand jobs. Many could work in hotels, restaurants, supermarkets, transport and industrial companies. When the war is over and Ukraine has defended its independence, many will probably return to their homeland. But some will also settle down and adapt to Lithuanian society.”