Countries in Eastern Europe are preparing for possibly hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Ukraine if the crisis with Russia worsens. Some Polish towns are already listing places available. And Romania is considering refugee camps.
People are concerned that any unrest could affect their countries’ economies. There is also concern about a wave of migration not seen since the 1990s during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.
Russia has more than 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine. The United States has warned that an attack could begin in the coming days. Russia denies any such plans and has accused the West of "hysteria."
Still, governments and towns near the Ukrainian border are getting ready to take in refugees, if needed.
The mayor of the eastern Polish town of Ciechanow said it was ready to receive around 80 refugees in a hotel within 48 hours.
Earlier this week, the northern town of Elblag said it had 420 places available. The central Polish city of Torun said it had 96 places for refugees. In the south, the city of Czestochowa said it has 1,100 places.
Romania finalized an action plan on Sunday, the country’s interior minister told private television station B1.
"... We are currently analyzing how many refugee camps we can install in a relatively short time - 10, 12, 24 hours…," he said.
Slovakia's defense minister has said that there may be tens of thousands of refugees even under a limited conflict. He said the government was preparing for different situations with its armed forces and was in close contact with officials in Ukraine.
Hungary is also making preparations.
"We also have a playbook and an action plan in the event of war," Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said last week.
He warned of the possibility of hundreds of thousands of refugees arriving in the case of war.
"Think back to the 1990s, when tens of thousands of people arrived from the former Yugoslav territories. That was not easy either – but many more would come from Ukraine, probably with no hope of return," he said.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have also said they were preparing to accept refugees. Lithuania's interior minister said last week that the government asked its cities and towns to list available housing. The minister added they expected refugees to come mainly from Poland and by airplane.
The Baltic News Service reported earlier this week that Latvia’s interior ministry is considering building refugee centers to house undocumented Ukrainian refugees. That plan would need government approval.
I’m Jonathan Evans.
Alicja Ptak and Krisztina Than reported on this story for the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English.
Words in This Story
hysteria – n. a situation in which many people behave or react in an extreme or uncontrolled way because of fear, anger, etc.
install – v. to make a machine, a service, etc. ready to be used in a certain place
analyze – v. to study something closely and carefully; to learn the nature and relationship of the parts of something by a close and careful examination
playbook – n. a stock of usual tactics or methods