(Reuters) -Canada will deploy up to 150 military personnel to Poland to support Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war and address a growing refugee crisis, Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Thursday.
Most of those military personnel will assist with the immediate care and processing of Ukrainian refugees at reception centers across Poland, Anand said.
“Our people will provide general support, spiritual services and limited medical care enabled by Ukrainian-speaking Canadian Armed Forces personnel,” Anand told reporters.
The Canadian Armed Forces members would also support a Polish-led task force for humanitarian assistance, and help resettle Ukrainians in Canada.
Over 4.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since Russia invaded on Feb. 24 in the biggest attack on a European state since 1945. More than half of those have gone to neighboring Poland, according to United Nations data https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine.
“The prime minister (Justin Trudeau) and I have been in close touch with our counterparts in Poland, as well as with the NATO alliance writ large, and we are committing these additional resources under Operation reassurance, which is our mission in support of NATO’s eastern flank,” Anand told reporters.
Canada, like other Western nations, has imposed broad economic sanctions on Russia and sent military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. It has committed more than C$1.2 billion ($951 million) in direct contributions to Ukraine, as well as offering up to C$1.6 billion in loan supports.
Trudeau’s Liberal government has also created a special scheme for Ukrainians and their families to apply for a temporary resident visa. Canada had approved over 30,000 applications for temporary stay as of April 6, according to official figures.
($1 = 1.2620 Canadian dollars)
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Alistair Bell)