Thursday, June 13, 2024

Afghan Refugees in Poland Help Arriving Ukrainian Refugees

Warsaw, Poland – Watching the footage of Ukrainians taking shelter at subway stations reminded Sabur Shah Dawod Zai of the situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover. Along with two of his fellow Afghan refugees, Mohammad Rafiq Durrani and Muneezzha Kakar, he donated food and items of clothing for Ukrainian refugees arriving in Poland. 

“They are in a terrible situation, and we understand what they are going through,” said Dawod Zai, who came to Warsaw six months ago from Kabul, Afghanistan. Dawod Zai and his friends put together essential items and hired a cab to drop the donation at the camp where refugees were arriving. “The cab driver asked us what the items were for, and when we told him we were donating it to help Ukrainian refugees, he insisted on driving us for free,” said Dawod Zai. 

One million people have fled Ukraine, seeking refuge in neighboring countries, with the majority crossing the border into Poland which shares a 500 kilometer border with Ukraine.

Neighboring countries, including Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia have kept their borders open for refugees fleeing Ukraine. UNHCR field staff have reported miles long queues at the border on the Ukrainian side, with people waiting in line for 60 hours in freezing temperatures. Most of the arrivals are women and children.  

In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said, “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one. Hour by hour, minute by minute, more people are fleeing the terrifying reality of violence. Countless have been displaced inside the country.” 

Grandi said that millions more are likely to be forced to flee Ukraine unless there is an immediate end to the conflict. “Inside Ukraine, our staff – and other humanitarians – are working where and when they can in frightening conditions. Our staff stay, even at great risk, because we know the needs in the country are huge,” said Grandi.

There has been a tremendous response from governments and local communities in receiving this one million refugees, and UNHCR staff have deployed throughout the region to scale up UNHCR protection and assistance programs for refugees, to support host governments, added Grandi.

“International solidarity has been heartwarming. But nothing – nothing – can replace the need for the guns to be silenced; for dialogue and diplomacy to succeed. Peace is the only way to halt this tragedy,” said Grandi.

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