Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) EU countries are bracing for a new wave of Ukrainian refugees as winter approaches and charities on the borders report increased movement.
Estimates place the number of internally displaced Ukrainians at nearly 7 million, with roughly 4.5 million already in the EU, largely in member states bordering Ukraine, according to Reuters reporting on Wednesday.
Refugee arrivals spiked at the start of the war in Ukraine, with numbers easing in late spring and remaining low through autumn. However, charities working on the borders are warning about signs of increased movement and are preparing for a new wave of arrivals.
Roman Dohovič, refugee aid coordinator in Košice, pointed out that the number of arrivals is up 15% and added that further increase is expected. “We are being called by people who are already staying in Košice and looking for accommodation for family members and acquaintances who are still in Ukraine,” he noted.
The city in eastern Slovakia has been providing accommodation for roughly 60 people in recent weeks and is prepared to increase this capacity to 1,000 if needed.
Slovakian authorities warn that up to 700,000 Ukrainian refugees could enter the country in the coming months, pointing to the large number of internally displaced people and dropping temperatures.
Zsófia Dobis-Lucski, spokeswoman for Hungarian Reformed Church Aid (HRCA) charity, noted that the number of daily arrivals from Hungary increased tenfold since Russian bombardment intensified.
She noted that the figure stood between 300 and 500 in recent days, which is still lower than roughly 1,000 recorded in the spring.
Witold Wołczyk from the Mayor’s Office in Przemyśl, pointed out “we have to prepare for winter” and added “we are constantly stocking up on hygiene products and food.”
The number of arrivals in Przemyśl stood at a few dozen daily in recent weeks, in contrast with approximately 4,000 in the spring.
Vít Rakušan, Czech Interior Minister, noted last week that approximately 20% of Ukrainian refugees who arrived in the EU returned to Ukraine. He warned that some may return in the winter as temperatures drop.
“Anything above half a million arrivals will put heavy strain on the healthcare and education systems but especially on capacity to provide decent accommodation,” he concluded.