Miles from Ukraine, Biden sees Poland’s refugee crisis

RZESZOW, Poland (AP) — Just miles from Ukraine, President Joe Biden on Friday hailed Poland for giving refuge to more than 2 million refugees who fled the Russian invasion; then he met with humanitarian experts on the ground on what will be

RZESZOW, Poland (AP) — Just miles from Ukraine, President Joe Biden on Friday hailed Poland for giving refuge to more than 2 million refugees who fled the Russian invasion; then he met with humanitarian experts on the ground to find out what will be needed to alleviate the growing suffering.

Biden said he had hoped to get even closer to the border but was prevented from doing so for security reasons. Still, he said he wanted to visit Poland to stress that the aid it is providing is having “enormous consequences” as Europe faces its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

“It doesn’t stop,” Biden said of the devastation in Ukraine. “It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie.”

Biden also visited some of the thousands of American troops who have been sent near the Polish border to help with the humanitarian emergency and to bolster the American military presence on NATO’s eastern flank. More than 3.5 million Ukrainians have fled the country since the February 24 invasion, including about 2.2 million to Poland, according to the United Nations.

In days, the number of refugees displaced from Ukraine since last month will exceed the number of Syrians forced from their homes by years of conflict after a 2011 uprising turned into a full-scale war, Samantha said. Power, of the United States Agency for International Cooperation. Development administrator.

The American military commitment in Poland appeared as soon as Air Force One landed, passing in front of the Patriot missile batteries. More equipment, including heavy trucks and other equipment painted with dark green and maroon camouflage, was present at the airport. A nearby convention center serves as the base for the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.

Polish President Andrzej Duda joined Biden for a briefing with humanitarian experts.

Duda, through an interpreter, thanked Biden for his support. He said that the Poles consider the Ukrainians they receive as their “guests”.

“That’s the name we want to apply to them,” Duda said. “We don’t want to call them refugees. They are our guests, our brothers, our neighbors from Ukraine, who today are in a very difficult situation.”

Biden’s first stop was with troops from the 82nd Airborne, at a barber shop and restaurant where he invited himself to sit down and share a pizza. Americans serve alongside Polish troops.

With the troops, he shared an anecdote about visiting his late son, Beau Biden, while deployed in Baghdad and bearing his mother’s maiden name so as not to draw attention to himself. The president jokingly joked with a service member about his standard short haircut and also seriously praised the troops.

“You are the best fighting force in the world and that is not hyperbole. Biden said.

Later he addressed a group of soldiers in more formal remarks, telling them that the nation “owes you a lot”. He also borrowed words from the late Secretary of State Madeline Albright to underscore their place in a time of fragility for the United States and its European allies.

“The secretary of state used to have an expression. She said, ‘We are the essential nation,'” Biden told the troops. “I don’t mean to sound philosophical here, but you are in the middle of a fight between democracy and an oligarch.”

Biden will be in Warsaw on Saturday for further talks with Duda and others. The Polish leader had planned to meet him at the airport on Friday, but his plane was delayed by a technical problem.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Biden is seeking to hear directly from U.S. troops and humanitarian experts about the situation on the ground and “what additional steps need to be taken to ensure that we invest.” » US dollars in the right place.

Biden, who spent Thursday pressing US allies to remain united against Russia, speculated that what he sees in Poland will “reinforce my commitment to the United States ensuring that we are also a major element in the management of the resettlement of all these people”. because humanitarian aid is needed both inside and outside Ukraine.

Speaking in Brussels after meetings with other world leaders, Biden said he had visited many war zones and refugee camps during his political career and “it’s devastating” to see young children without parents or men and women with blank looks on their faces wondering, “My God, where am I? What will happen to me?

He said Poland, Romania and Germany should not be left on their own to deal with Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

“This is an international responsibility,” Biden said shortly after announcing an additional $1 billion in aid to help Ukrainian refugees. He also announced that the United States would welcome up to 100,000 of these refugees. The White House said most Ukrainian refugees ultimately want to return home.

Biden said the United States is obligated to “step up and do everything in our power to alleviate the suffering and pain of innocent women, children and men” crossing the border.

He said, “I’m planning on trying to see these people…I hope I can see a lot of people.”

Some refugees interviewed at Przemysl train station in Poland on Friday said they hoped to eventually return to Ukraine. They also weren’t very optimistic about Biden’s visit.

“I sure don’t have any expectations” about Biden, a tearful Ira Satula, 32, of Kremenchug said. Satula was grateful for all the support and warm welcome from Poland.

“But home is home, and hopefully we’ll be there soon,” Satula said.

Olga Antonovna, 68, of Chernigov, said “it’s really 50-50” that Biden will help enough.

“I think we needed help a long time ago, long before,” she said.

Sullivan said Biden will deliver a speech Saturday on “the issues of this moment, the urgency of the challenge ahead, what the conflict in Ukraine means for the world.”


Superville reported from Washington. Associated Press video reporter Srdjan Nedeljkovic in Przemysl, Poland, Vanessa Gera in Warsaw, Poland, and Aamer Madhani and Sagar Meghani contributed to this report.

Chris Megerian and Darlene Superville, Associated Press

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