New York Times, February 2022
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has pushed tens of thousands of people out of their homes and fleeing across borders to escape violence. But unlike the refugees who have flooded Europe in crises over the past decade, they are being welcomed. Countries that have for years resisted taking in refugees from wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are now opening their doors to Ukrainians as Russian forces carry out a nationwide military assault. Perhaps 100,000 Ukrainians already have left their homes, according to United Nations estimates, and at least half of them have crowded onto trains, jammed highways or walked to get across their country’s borders in what officials warn could become the world’s next refugee crisis.
U.N. and American officials described their concerted diplomatic push for Ukraine’s neighbors and other European nations to respond to the outpouring of need. President Biden “is certainly prepared” to accept refugees from Ukraine, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Thursday, but she noted that the majority of them would probably choose to remain in Europe so they could more easily return home once the fighting ended.
“Heartfelt thanks to the governments and people of countries keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees,” said Filippo Grandi, the head of the U.N. refugee agency. He warned that “many more” Ukrainians were moving toward the borders. That means thousands will end up in countries led by nationalist governments that in past crises have been reluctant to welcome refugees or even blocked them.