While Europe still faces a refugee crisis with 4million fleeing the Russia-Ukraine war, a Western official said there was surprisingly one day last weekend when more people returned than fled
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Some Ukrainians are returning from Poland to the West of their country as they are “fed up” and feel it is “safe enough to go back”, Western officials believe.
An official today said there was one day recently when more people went back into Ukraine from Poland than came out.
It comes after the UK Ministry of Defense said Russian forces “have now fully withdrawn” from northern Ukraine – but warned they will be deployed to a new offensive in the eastern Donbas.
And Russian shelling of cities in the east and south “continues”, the MOD warned, as the UK warns Putin’s forces are committing war crimes.
Despite this, a Western official – speaking on condition of anonymity – said: “There was one day last weekend when actually there were more people who went back into Ukraine than came out.
“That is a mixture of people who are going to fight, and people who are fed up of being away and are judging that western Ukraine is safe enough to go back to.”
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They added: “The risk is an unbelievably bloody conflict in southeast Ukraine driving people westwards and potentially a sense of Kyiv and surrounding areas becoming safer, that may bring people back.”
Any return is still dwarfed by the scale of the crisis, with 7million people displaced, 4million refugees and around 2.5million crossing from Ukraine into Poland.
Of those who have fled, Western officials believe 1.3million are still in Poland including around 700,000 children in Polish schools, despite many not speaking the language.
A Western official said the “gendered” nature of the crisis “is really striking”, with officials observing 96-97% of those crossing the border were women and children.
Reception centers near the border are well-organized but “there simply were not 1.3million empty houses sitting around”, the official warned. Polish officials have used sports stadiums, exhibition centers and even a former Tesco to house refugees.
While officials believe Poland could accept another million people, and “we’re not going to see tented camps”, “there is an accommodation problem”.
Groups of people “literally don’t know what to do with themselves”, the official added, as many refugees want to remain close to the border because they want to go back.
A Western official added the availability of food in the future as the months tick by “is a concern, it’s something we’re watching very closely.”
Britain is advising Ukraine’s government on how to get pesticides and farm equipment to ensure harvests are as good as possible, and food could be brought into Ukraine from over the border if needed.
It came as shamed Priti Patel apologized after admitting just 1,200 Homes for Ukraine refugees have arrived in the UK so far.
The “frustrated” Home Secretary pleaded “any new scheme takes time” after the paltry figure was branded “scandalous and shameful”.
New official data showed 79,800 visa applications had been received and 40,900 UK visas granted to Ukrainians fleeing the war.
Yet just 12,000 Ukrainians have so far arrived in the UK, with just 1,200 of those arriving under Homes for Ukraine and the rest arriving to join family.
That is despite around 200,000 Brits expressing an interest in hosting Ukrainians in their spare rooms.
One furious family told the Telegraph they had been barred from hosting refugees because they had bare floorboards, while another was told to board up an interior safety glass door.
The Refugee Council accused the Government of “choosing control over compassion” in “a web of bureaucracy and chaos”.