Politics

Canadian military examining if soldiers could help Poland deal with Ukrainian refugees

The Canadian Armed Forces is examining the possibility of deploying troops to Poland to assist with the refugee crisis set off by the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly six weeks ago.

Poland has taken in nearly 2.5 million Ukrainians fleeing the conflict

Ukrainian refugees arrive at a border crossing in Medyka, in southeastern Poland, on Saturday. (Sergei Grits/The Associated Press)

The Canadian Armed Forces is examining the possibility of deploying troops to Poland to assist with the refugee crisis set off by the Russian invasion of Ukraine nearly six weeks ago.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said a team of military planners arrived in Poland this week to assess how Canadians soldiers could help.

"This team is examining the possibilities for a CAF deployment to assist Polish, allied and Canadian efforts to care for, co-ordinate, and facilitate the onward movement of Ukrainian refugees," Anand said in an email to CBC News.

"The team in Poland will provide recommendations on the potential scope and tasks that could be undertaken by the CAF."

The military has not yet determined if it will deploy troops for this mission.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that nearly 4.3 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian invasion began on Feb. 24.

Nearly 2.5 million have fled to Poland, by far the highest figure of any nation. Romania, which has received around 650,000 refugees, is second.

Krakow, Poland's second largest city at 800,000 residents, has transformed within weeks to a city of nearly a million after the arrival of some 150,000 displaced Ukrainians. 

The UNHCR has opened a temporary office in Krakow, which is struggling to accommodate the sudden and massive influx of refugees.

Canada has pledged 3,400 more military personnel — soldiers, sailors and aircrew — to join NATO's response force in eastern Europe in a bid to deter further Russian aggression.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will participate remotely in an event called "Stand Up For Ukraine" in Warsaw on April 9 to recognize what the Polish embassy to Canada calls Poland's "essential role in supporting refugees fleeing the invasion of Ukraine."

The federal government has pledged to temporarily take in an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict, though Canadian immigration officials expect the vast majority of Ukrainians will prefer to stay closer to Ukraine.

Canada has also sped up its processing of refugee applications at its embassy in Warsaw.

WATCH | Canadian embassy in Poland handling a surge in refufee applications

Canada's embassy in Poland becomes hub for processing Ukrainian refugee applications

2 months ago
Duration 8:56
Canada's Ambassador to Poland Leslie Scanlon discusses how the embassy in Warsaw has ramped up processing of refugee applications.

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