BERLIN – The first 134 of 2,500 Ukrainian refugees who Germany promised to admit from Moldova arrived on Friday as part of broader European plans to help Ukraine’s neighbours look after those fleeing the Russian invasion.
The government of Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest and smallest countries, had appealed for help to deal with the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees straining critical infrastructure.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock committed to taking in some refugees during a trip to Moldova two weeks ago and was at Frankfurt airport on Friday to welcome the first arrivals.
“We are in a situation where as of today, already 4 million people have fled from Ukraine and we need to assume that this is going to go up to 8 to 10 million. And none of the border countries can shoulder this alone,” Baerbock said.
In the month since Moscow invaded, Russian troops have met stiff resistance and failed to capture any major city, but around a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people have been driven from their homes, 3.7 million going to other countries.
Other countries were joining Germany to fly refugees out of Moldova, she said.
“We have now been assured of agreements to take 14,000 people across Europe.”
Germany has so far recorded around 250,000 Ukrainian refugees, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Friday.
“Ukraine’s neighbouring countries cannot do this alone. They need our support and above all they need European support and we see that this air bridge can work,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.