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Polish authorities still working on Donbas evacuation plan

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Polish authorities still working on Donbas evacuation plan

A delegation from the Polish foreign ministry, currently in eastern Ukraine, is still preparing evacuation plans for people of Polish descent in the separatist-held Donbas region.

“We are determined to help,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Marcin Wojciechowski on Monday as quoted by the Polish Press Agency.

“At the moment […] we are gathering information and speaking to people of Polish descent about their current situation and what kind of aid is needed,” Wojciechowski said, adding that “the Polish consulate in Kharkiv completed gathering submissions from people interested in being evacuated”.

Wojciechowski said that the information will be tranferred to the “relevant authorities in Poland” which will then “take a decision on the next stages”, although declined to comment on how many people want to leave Ukraine.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on speculative numbers, first of all the information must be sent to the relevant institutions,” he said.

However, Walentyna Staruszko from the Polish Culture Society in the Donbas has said that 200 people have applied for evacuation.

The planned departure of Poles from eastern Ukraine was to take place on 29 December, although so far these plans have fallen through.

Michal Dworczyk, head of the Freedom and Democracy Foundation told Polish Radio that “[Poles] in Donbas received information from the Polish administration on how the evacuation would proceed. […] These people began to make preparations and suddenly it turned out that everything changed and that the evacuation would in fact take place in the first half of January”.
“That is if it will take place at all, because even during Christmas reservations surfaced in the Foreign Ministry as to whether the evacuation would be implemented at all,” he added.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz declared on 6 December that a decision on evacuating Poles out of Donbas would be sealed before Christmas, with the evacuation proper taking before the end of the year.
This plan did not matieralise, however.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski is now closely observing the developments in the matter, with presidential advisor Tomasz Nalecz telling Polish Radio on Monday morning that while the evacuation is under the authority of the Polish government, the head of state may engage in lobbying for a quick resolution of the problem.

Meanwhile, speaking to Polish Radio, Walentyna Staruszko mooted that “the term of departure has been somewhat delayed. In the next ten days I expect the evacuation to take place”.
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