Jill Biden to meet Ukrainian refugees in Romania and Slovakia

More than 5.6 million Ukrainians have fled the country since invasion

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US first lady Jill Biden will embark on a four-day trip to Romania and Slovakia on Thursday to meet displaced Ukrainians as the Russian invasion of the country continues to force millions to flee their homes.

More than 5.6 million Ukrainians have left the country since Russia launched its invasion on February 24 in one of the fastest exoduses since the Second World War, data from the UN refugee agency show.

Romania has welcomed 846,521 refugees since the war began and another 385,284 refugees have fled to Slovakia.

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On Friday, Ms Biden will meet humanitarian aid workers and educators in Bucharest who are attempting to integrate displaced Ukrainians into “a stable and safe school environment”, the White House said in a statement.

The first lady will also meet US embassy staff and Romanian government officials.

Ms Biden will then celebrate Mother's Day on Sunday in Kosice and Vysne Nemecke, Slovakia, where she will meet refugees, aid workers and locals supporting displaced families.

Her visit comes as the UN released estimates showing a further three million Ukrainians were likely to flee the country by the end of the year. The 8.3 million projected displaced Ukrainians would double the organisation's original estimates.

The US Congress is seeking to authorise an additional $33 billion in military and economic aid for Ukraine that President Joe Biden requested last week. The $3bn earmarked for humanitarian aid would provide direct food support, medical supplies and job training, the White House said.

The White House also launched a “Uniting for Ukraine” programme to streamline the entry of Ukrainians to the US. If granted “humanitarian parole”, eligible Ukrainians would be granted a two-year legal status.

Mr Biden said the US would welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians and other displaced civilians fleeing Russian aggression.

Updated: May 05, 2022, 2:40 PM
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