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Ambassador: Poland 'absolutely neutral' whether refugees stay or return to Ukraine

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 14, 2024 11:37 AM 2 min read
Refugees from Ukraine stand on a platform at the Messebahnhof Laatzen station in Laatzen, Germany, after their arrival on April 15, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Warsaw will neither encourage nor prevent the return of Ukrainian refugees to Ukraine, Polish Ambassador to Kyiv Jaroslaw Guzy said in an interview with Deutsche Welle published on March 13.

Poland hosts around 1 million Ukrainians who fled from Russia's all-out war, the highest number of all countries. The UN records approximately 6 million refugees residing abroad as a result of Russian aggression.

When asked whether Poland plans to contribute to the return of refugees to Ukraine, Guzy said that the country would remain "absolutely neutral on this issue," referring to the opinions of Polish politicians and the Ukrainian community.

"This is a matter of Ukrainian citizens' decision who are in Poland. Whether they decide to return or not," the ambassador said.

He admitted that Warsaw might be interested in the presence of Ukrainian refugees "from the point of view of the Polish labor market," saying that some employers can convince them to stay.

"But these are not things to which the Polish authorities will react in any way," Guzy said.

In late January, Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna said Ukraine was discussing with its partners how to handle the return of Ukrainian refugees from abroad in the future.

"Definitely, it is not Ukraine's direct position that Ukrainians should go back, and therefore, any aid to them should be reduced. Absolutely not. This is an ongoing discussion," she said.

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed in February an act on the protection of Ukrainian refugees, extending the legality of their stay until June 30.

6/10 Ukrainian refugees hope to return, study says
More than half of Ukrainians surveyed said they plan to return to Ukraine in the future, a 2023 study by Vox Ukraine released Jan. 16 says.
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