In Warsaw earlier today, PM Costa with Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki

PM visits largest refugee registration centre in Poland

Explains how Portugal can help

On his way to Ukraine, Portugal’s PM António Costa was in Warsaw earlier today, for talks with Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki and a visit to the largest refugee registration centre in Poland – a country that is bearing the brunt of the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of its eastern-most neighbour.

He explained at a press conference before leaving for the football stadium that has become the country’s largest refugee registration centre, that Portugal was ready to help Poland with the construction of temporary housing, the supply of medication, clothing and shoes.

Indeed, the government will be giving Poland a €50 million ‘tab’, to purchase material it needs to support the more than 3.6 million Ukrainians that fled across the border.

The money will have to be spent in Portugal, “according to European rules”. Portugal is also available to offer temporary protection to refugees currently in Poland – albeit the tendency is for Ukrainians to start returning home as the country’s military forces re-take certain areas.

Special flyers are being printed, said the PM, with details of the kind of welcome Ukrainians can expect if they choose to come to Portugal: the monthly allowance available under the statute for temporary protection, including SNS health access, old age support, ante-natal care etc.

Portugal’s “humanitarian support is now focused on Poland”, he said – “a country that has made an enormous effort” to help Ukrainians, but which now needs a lot more help in order to keep doing so.

Poland is currently drawing up a list of what it needs – while signs are that Ukrainians are recovering their confidence to return to their homeland.

Even some of those that arrived in Portugal since the end of February have returned, said the PM.

Nonetheless, there are “many areas that have been completely devastated” in the war. These are nowhere near the point of ‘uniting conditions for reconstruction’.

“We are available to receive more refugees”, said the PM (Portugal has already taken in upwards of 36,000), “but we have to have the notion that our effort is a small drop in the ocean compared to the effort of a country like Poland. It is our duty to be supportive, as were were in the past with Greece, Italy, Malta and Cyprus”, he said.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com