Hundreds of thousands protest in major European cities against Russia’s invasion. All EU countries agree receiving asylum seekers for at least three years.
Mothers with small children trying to take a train to the border with Poland. Families on buses fleeing to the western part of the country. Many such images have been seen over the weekend in Ukraine.
Five days after the invasion of Russia, as many as 425,000 people have already left the country seeking refuge, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said.
Those abandoning Ukraine are arriving in the thousands to Poland (around 200,000 by 27 February, according to authorities), Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. Many would be seeking to stay with relatives, friends and other contacts in these neighbouring countries.
Over 150,000 have been internally displaced.
The UN says the number of asylum seekers in Europe after the war could reach the figure of 4 million people. This would exceed the figures of the 2015 refugee crisis of Syrians.
All countries of the European Union have agreed to welcome Ukrainian refugees. “Everyone who has to flee Putin’s bombs will be welcomed with open arms”, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. European countries will allow asylum seekers to stay for 3 years before a they have to apply for the asylum procedures to receive an official status as refugees. In this initial period time, they will all have right to education, work and subsidies.
But as many flee the country (mostly women, children and elderly), it is believed that thousands of Ukrainians living abroad are entering the country to fight as volunteers.
Europe is also responding with unprecedented military help. For the first time, the EU will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and equipment to a country under attack - with 450 million euros. Other non-EU countries such as Denmark and Sweden are also sending war material to the Ukrainian government.
These moves come in addition to financial sanctions to hurt Russia’s economy.
Over the weekend, many European cities saw large demonstrations against the war initiated by the government of Vladimir Putin. Around 100,000 protested in Berlin (Germany), 35,000 in Madrid (Spain), 30,000 in Tbilisi (Georgia) and 10,000 in Helsinki (Finland). Thousands took the streets in other major cities.
In some of these gatherings, clothes, food and other humanitarian aid were collected by to send to Ukraine.
More than 100,000 people showed up at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate waving Ukrainian flags and anti-war banners to protest Russia's invasion. pic.twitter.com/uUxGH39lT6
— DW News (@dwnews) February 28, 2022
Chants like “Stop Putin”, “Russian troops out of Ukraine” and signs with the word “peace” or “safe Europe” where seen in protests in front of Russian embassies all over the world.
In some places, like Edinburgh (Scotland), prayer vigils were also organised.
In conference calls, hundreds from across the world joined in online prayer gatherings organised by groups such as the European Baptist Federation, Lausanne Movement, and IFES, among others.