Conflicts & War

London’s Polish community springs into action for Ukraine refugees

By Patricia Rodríguez

London, Mar 10 (EFE).- There is a hive of early morning activity at a Polish community center in south London as throngs of volunteers sort through a mountain of donations destined for Ukrainian refugees.

Around a hundred people gather at the White Eagle Club to methodically unpack the piles of bags and packages full of medical supplies, diapers, blankets, tinned foods and clothes before it is sent to Poland, which has so far taken in 1.4 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russia’s bloody invasion of their homeland.

What started as a modest initiative has snowballed into a major charitable operation.

“It’s absolutely impressive to see how all the people came together, it was started by the Polish community, Poland is the neighbor to Ukraine so it’s close to our heart,” Ukrainian Kate, the communications coordinator for the center, tells Efe.

“We do prioritize certain items which are really needed in Ukraine, we communicate with people there, so we know for example that all the baby food, nappies, so stuff from the kids, then medical equipment, medical supplies like large bandages, first aid kits which are used for people who are fighting on the frontline,” she adds.

Once sorted, the donations are sent to a logistics center in London from there they will be transported to the Ukraine-Poland border.

Over two million Ukrainians, the majority women and children, have fled their country since the Russian invasion started just over two weeks ago in what has become the fast-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

In response, the European Union waived visa rules for Ukrainian nationals allowing them to live and work in the bloc for an initial period of three years, which could later be extended.

The United Kingdom, however, has been criticized for its slow response to the refugee crisis, having only granted special visas for around 760 of 22,000 Ukrainian applicants so far.

After coming in for heavy criticism from the opposition Labour party, home secretary Priti Patel said Thursday that the asylum process would be “streamlined” to allow Ukrainian passport holders with family in the UK to apply for asylum online. EFE


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