By John Helmer, Moscow
Yesterday, one hundred and forty-two thousand Ukrainians crossed the border into Poland as war refugees, according to Warsaw state television. This is the highest daily rate since the military operations in the country escalated on February 24.
A total of 1,027,603 refugees have entered Poland from the Ukraine between February 24 and March 6, according to data of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The daily average is just under 103,000.
Before February, the eight-year civil war between the Kiev regime and the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk had triggered the UNHCR calculation of 1.8 million people in “need of humanitarian assistance”, almost all of them in the people’s republic territories.
In Polish terms, the cross-border movement in the past two weeks far exceeds the refugee flow through Turkey into Poland from the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya; that number peaked between 2009 and 2015. In those years, refugee arrivals in Poland averaged 15,111 per annum, 1,300 refugees per month, 42 per day. By 2021, the refugee number arriving in Poland had dropped to just 2,811 for the full year.
Yesterday Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki issued an appeal to the European Union (EU) states for their help to take the refugees from Poland as soon as possible, and in the meantime pay the Polish government for the costs of refugee accommodation and assistance.
“This is the largest migration crisis in Europe since World War II,” Morawiecki said. “We need systemic measures and Poland is taking them…Today, Poland and other Central and Eastern Europe take the greatest burden in organizing humanitarian aid…I appeal to all leaders and citizens of the European Union: this is our common cause and responsibility.”
Over the weekend the Ukrainian refugee movement to all European countries reached 1.7 million. They far exceed the peak flow of Syrian, Iraqi and Libyan refugees which the Turkish Government was sending into Europe at a rate of 150,000 per month during 2015. Between 2015 and 2021 Turkey has been offered two tranches of €6 billion from the EU to accept and accommodate 3.5 million refugees from the bordering Arab states, and keep them from moving on to the EU.
In the past week the Anglo-American and European media have been publicizing stories of volunteer efforts at welcoming the Ukrainian refugees. Unpublicized, however, the political and economic resistance on the part of governments, political parties, labour unions, and social media is growing rapidly. The threat of the human cannon which Turkish officials have used to bargain for EU membership and cash is now being deployed, not only by the Poles, but also in bitter recriminations between the French and British.
Earlier this week the French Interior Minister accused the British Home Secretary of saying one thing, doing another towards the Ukrainians at Calais waiting to cross the Channel to Dover. The British are stalling the admission of the refugees in a fashion that is “completely unsuitable” and “lacked humanity”, the Paris official said.
In its most recent report on the Ukrainian refugees, the UNHCR released this map of the principal cross-border movements and a tabulation of arrivals by country. The total number was counted to 1.74 million from February 24 to noon on Sunday, March 6.
The data display is misleading because the UNHCR report adds in small print that “an additional 96,000 people moved to the Russian Federation from the Donetsk and Luhansk regions between 18 and 23 February.” This flow of refugees into Russia was triggered by military operations by the Kiev regime’s forces before the Russian Army began its operation on February 24. Altogether, the UNHCR count of Ukrainian refugees in Russia is just under 150,000, ranking third in volume after Poland and Hungary. The Russian figure in the table is also lagging the others by three days.
The Polish Border Guard is reporting this week that “among the refugees, 90 percent are citizens of Ukraine, and the remaining 10 percent are citizens of countries around the world, citizens of the European Union or Schengen. That’s about 100 different nationalities.” This means that roughly 100,000 refugees are from third countries, and are not fully covered by the Warsaw government’s assistance scheme to date.
Polish sources believe that announcements from Berlin that the German government has dropped its border controls and will welcome all refugees from the Ukraine, are not quite what they seem, and “decidedly lack the propaganda-driven enthusiasm of 2015.”
Polish officials reportedly suspect the Germans of unreadiness and also unwillingness to accept the numbers of refugees now entering Poland. As of March 6, an estimated 225,000 refugees were anticipated in Germany. By the weekend, however, the German Federal Police and federal Interior Ministry had registered just 27,491 war refugees from Ukraine. “Since there are no border controls, the number of war refugees entering Germany can actually already be much higher,” Berlin officials have acknowledged.
On Monday in Berlin a public relations stunt by the German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier broadcast the message that Germany is saving Ukrainian Jews from Russian attack. Steinmeier appeared for the press at a Jewish religious centre after the evacuation of a hundred Jewish children from an orphanage in Odessa because it is a “port city in Ukraine that the Russian armed forces could bomb next”. Steinmeier announced “it is the cruel war that Putin’s army is waging against Ukraine that has driven these children and young people and their companions to flee.”
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (right) with rabbis and children at the Chabad Lubavitch Berlin education center on Monday. Source: https://www.rnd.de/
In 2021 Germany led the European states by a considerable margin in the total number of refugees it accepted and allowed to remain. The German total was more than double the next largest flow allowed by France; four times the number accepted by the US; and ten times the number accepted by the UK. The Polish total in 2021 was a tiny fraction of the German aggregate.
EUROPEAN STATE REFUGEE STATISTICS, 2021
For the German government and people, however, there is now a looming threat that if the fighting continues in the Ukraine, and the refugee outflow reaches the UNHCR estimate of four million, Germany will be swamped this year by double the refugee arrivals in the country since the peaks of 1.4 million in 1993 and 1.2 million in 2020.
REFUGEE ARRIVALS IN GERMANY FROM 1960 THROUGH 2020
The UNHCR reports of the country of origin for the refugees arriving in Germany have revealed that until this year Syria accounted for roughly half, and one-tenth each from Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, refugees from the wars the US and NATO, including Germany, have waged, and continue to fight, in those countries.