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Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi and Yuriy Kamelchuk

Timmy Dooley 'We cannot be shy about how many Ukrainian refugees we can accommodate'

The Fianna Fáil senator visited Ukraine at the weekend with colleague Billy Kelleher and saw first-hand the suffering there.

THIS WEEKEND AS Co-President of the ALDE party in Europe, I travelled to the Ukraine city of Lviv alongside my MEP colleague Billy Kelleher to meet with the city’s Mayor and also the governor of the region.

They renewed their appeal for Europe to implement a no-fly zone and to provide them with more humanitarian assistance and equipment.

Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi and the governor of the region, Maxym Kozytsky gave us a very sobering assessment of the situation their people are facing. They are very thankful for the support they have received from the EU so far but they do need further help.

How can we help?

I believe Ireland can do more to help in terms of non-lethal military equipment like helmets and bulletproof jackets, while also giving money to the aid agencies who are working hard on the ground.

I also spoke with the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Olga Stefanishyna and Ukrainian members of parliament Yuriy Kamelchuk and Maria Mezentseva. Their resolve in the face of this Russian invasion is inspiring. I made clear to them that Ireland is fully behind Ukraine and will endeavour to support them as much as possible.

The situation on the ground is extremely fraught and fragile. We visited the Polish Ukrainian border and saw firsthand the heartwrenching situation Ukrainian refugees find themselves in as they attempt to flee this brutal and unjust invasion of their country.

At the border, there are tailbacks of 20km of cars alongside queues of more than 5km of people trying to enter Poland in order to flee the Russian attacks.

While there we saw a relatively young man kissing his wife and two small children goodbye as they queued to enter Poland while he was led back to Ukraine to fight for his country.

WhatsApp Image 2022-03-07 at 6.07.21 PM Governor of the Lviv region, Maxym Kozytsky and Yuriy Kamelchuk member of the Ukrainian Parliament Timmy Dooley Timmy Dooley

That family and so many others are facing a very uncertain future and it’s hard to comprehend what they are going through. The plight of that family is certainly a sight I will not forget.

Spirit of a people under attack

The people of Ukraine are very worried but I was blown away by their composure as they remain resolute in the face of this invasion. Thousands of refugees are crossing the border into Poland every day and we are watching what is the beginning of a massive refugee crisis in Europe.

Europe must work to make the process for those entering Poland easier and Poland must also be supported in the processing of Ukrainians. Ireland has always been a country with a strong sense of humanity in times of crisis and we must do our part in providing for Ukrainian refugees.

Having spoken to Mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovyi and seeing the operation being carried out at the Polish Ukrainian border I believe the process of creating refugee camps at the border should be explored. The EU must support Poland in creating an area inside Poland where refugees can be managed and processed as they hopefully are resettled across Europe.

Irish people are known for their humanity and generosity and I have great belief that Irish people will open up their homes to help those Ukrainian families as they flee the terror of the Russian invasion.

To date, more than 1.5m people have fled Ukraine and I don’t think we can afford to be shy about how many Ukrainian refugees we can try and accommodate.

The Government has already committed to providing bulletproof jackets, medical supplies and fuel for Ukraine, however, I will be taking this message home to stress that the state does as much as possible to help the people of Ukraine.

As the men of Ukraine say goodbye to their wives, sisters and children in order to fight for their country, we must be resolute in our support of Ukraine by doing all we can to provide for as many of those women and children as possible.

Timmy Dooley is a Fianna Fáil senator and is vice president of the ALDE political grouping in the EU.

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