Dutch government to open office in Poland for detained Ukrainian refugees


The Newfoundland and Labrador government is opening an office in Poland to help Ukrainians fleeing Russian attacks resettle in Canada’s easternmost province.

Premier Andrew Furey unveiled the plans Thursday in St. John’s, saying the Warsaw office will work with the Canadian embassy to help Ukrainian refugees navigate the process of moving to the province. He said the office will be staffed with employees of the Provincial Office of Immigration and Multiculturalism who speak the languages ​​of the region.

“The point of first contact is extremely important when it comes to refugees and where they end up settling,” Furey told reporters at the provincial legislature. “We want to make sure people who have been displaced from their own homes in Ukraine know that Newfoundland and Labrador is a viable and sustainable option for them to come with their families.

The Warsaw office will be an extension of the province’s Ukrainian Family Support Office which was launched on March 2 to help residents bring their loved ones in Ukraine to the province, Furey said. The province says the office will organize information sessions on immigration programs and support services offered by the province and help connect Ukrainians with employers in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Russia began its ongoing invasion of Ukraine on February 24, striking several cities across the country, including the capital Kyiv. As of March 15, the United Nations said three million people had fled the country, with the majority seeking refuge in neighboring Poland.

The federal government announced Thursday that it has begun accepting applications from Ukrainians and their families fleeing Russian aggression and wishing to come to Canada. Ottawa has said Canada will accept an unlimited number of Ukrainian refugees, and officials said Thursday they could stay in the country for up to three years while they decide on next steps. Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said two weeks ago that Ukrainian refugee applications would not be subject to conditions such as language requirements or labor market impact assessments.

It’s a different approach than the one taken with refugees from Syria or Afghanistan, in which Ottawa screens those who will be allowed into the country, then provides transportation and resettlement assistance, the minister said Thursday. Newfoundland and Labrador Immigration, Gerry Byrne.

Ukrainian refugees won’t get that logistical help from Ottawa, Byrne said, so Newfoundland and Labrador is stepping up. He said the province’s support office has been inundated with offers of help from residents since it opened.

“This is a unique response to a unique situation,” Byrne told reporters. “Ukrainians need to know that we are on their side… We let them know that we will support them through the visa application process.”

He said a team is already on the ground in Warsaw to gather information and determine how the province can best serve Ukrainian refugees.

Newfoundland and Labrador has a population of about 521,500 people and about 1,400 of them identify as being of Ukrainian descent, Byrne said.

The province also has the fastest aging population in the country, coupled with a low birth rate and high rate of emigration, according to Statistics Canada. The province’s budget last year set a target of welcoming 5,100 newcomers each year by 2026.

Byrne said it was too early to say how many Ukrainians will settle in the province, noting that many European countries have also opened their doors to them. “The Ukrainians will make the choice,” he said.

As of March 3, more than 6,100 Ukrainians have arrived in Canada since January 1, according to a federal government press release.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on March 17, 2022.

— With files from Laura Osman in Ottawa

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