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MP James Wild on Poland’s border with Amir Khan and Ukrainian refugees



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On Saturday morning, I stood a few inches from Poland’s border with Russia. Behind the checkpoint was the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on the coast which hosts Russia’s Baltic fleet.

Normally a thriving crossing with thousands of vehicles passing through, it was eerily quiet. Even without the bracing wind it was a chilling moment to see the eyes of Putin’s border guards as his military continue to carry out appalling acts in Ukraine.

This was the first part of Project Maja, a social action project, I took part in along with MPs and others to help Ukrainian child refugees in Poland. A short drive from the border it was moving to meet families being hosted by Caritas, a Catholic charity.

The focus of this project was to build a playground in Poland for a Ukrainian orphanage that relocated to Koscierzyna. This project was made possible thanks to support of the Amir Khan Foundation.
The focus of this project was to build a playground in Poland for a Ukrainian orphanage that relocated to Koscierzyna. This project was made possible thanks to support of the Amir Khan Foundation.

The generosity of the care and hospitality offered to the Ukrainian refugees was humbling. Listening to their experiences, the impact and trauma of fleeing from the war was obvious, and the songs from home they sang were incredibly moving.

Poland has given sanctuary to over 2.5 million Ukrainian people. The Governor of the Pomeranian region explained that over 60,000 refugees, mainly women and children, are being supported, with the majority being hosted in private homes in his region. Others are being accommodated in student accommodation or other locations and helped with education, jobs, and financial support.

The focus of this project was to build a playground for a Ukrainian orphanage that relocated to Koscierzyna. The children we met were orphans, had learning difficulties, or were looked-after children who had moved with their carers and teachers to safety.

Poland playground. Amir Khan on the trampoline apparatus.
Poland playground. Amir Khan on the trampoline apparatus.

This project was made possible thanks to support of the Amir Khan Foundation, the two-time world boxing champion’s charitable arm. It was a sign of Amir’s commitment that he was alongside us digging out the earth and helping install the equipment. When the work was complete it was lovely to see the children enjoying it – laughing and playing.

Part of the reason for focusing on this visit was the desire from Polish people we met to share the examples of the generosity they are showing and to highlight the scale of the refugee crisis they are facing. We should be doing all we can to support Poland and other neighbouring countries hosting so many refugees who want to remain close to Ukraine – where they wish to come to the UK the target of 48 hours to approve applications needs to be met as soon as possible. And, it is about telling the stories of the refugees and showing solidarity with them. As one of the local government representatives we met said, along with sanctuary they need to know that they are not alone.

That is why the Prime Minister’s visit to Kyiv to meet President Zelensky was an important moment to show the UK continues to stand with Ukraine. Alongside further financial support, the new package of armoured vehicles, anti-ship missiles, and other equipment will help Ukrainians defend themselves.

While the refugees we met and listened to during the project were safe and had been very warmly welcomed by the Polish people, they want the war and destruction to end and to a man, woman, and child long to be able to return home.



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