PM had promised to help during a visit to Polish capital in May
Portugal’s government approved on Wednesday a €30 million humanitarian aid package for Ukrainian refugees in Poland, the country that has received the most people fleeing the war triggered by Russia’s invasion.
The support, which was approved at the weekly cabinet meeting, had been promised in May by Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa during a trip to Warsaw, in which he visited the national stadium in the Polish capital, where a refugee reception centre has been installed.
At the time, Costa announced that Portugal would provide material support to the Polish authorities for the reception of refugees from Ukraine worth up to €50 million – aid that would also include goods such as prefabricated houses or pharmaceutical products.
Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Poland has received more than 3 million Ukrainian refugees and is expected to see a new wave in the coming months.
A fortnight ago, Poland, together with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, asked the European Commission for additional help in receiving the new refugees who are expected to leave Ukraine in the winter months after Russia adopted a strategy of attacking that country’s energy infrastructure.
“Another wave of refugees is coming,” said Poland’s prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, at a press conference on November 24 in the Slovak city of Kosice after attending a summit of the Visegrad Group, composed of four central European countries, three of which share a border with Ukraine.
“We urge Brussels today to take quick preventive measures and to help host countries more because of the high costs refugees entail,” Morawiecki said.
On Tuesday, the four countries argued that they would rather help Kyiv manage the humanitarian crisis than face a new wave of migration.
According to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at least 4.8 million refugees from Ukraine have been registered across Europe, with Poland the main destination, with an estimated 3.5 million people.
The Russian invasion – justified by President Vladimir Putin with the need to “denazify” and demilitarise Ukraine for Russia’s own security – has been condemned by the international community at large, which has responded by sending arms to Ukraine and imposing political and economic sanctions on Russia.
The United Nations has reported 6,702 civilian deaths and 10,479 wounded since the beginning of the war, but stresses that these figures are far from the real ones.