Ukrainian refugee camp in Mexico’s capital to close

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MEXICO CITY – Organizers of a camp for Ukrainian refugees who have traveled to Mexico said on Tuesday they will close it soon and have discouraged Ukrainians still in Europe from traveling to Mexico as they try to enter the United States.

About 1,000 Ukrainians passed through the camp during the month it opened on the east side of Mexico City. Now only about 120 remain, and 98% of them already have sponsors in the United States and hope to travel there soon, said Vlad Fedoryshyn, director of United with Ukraine, a nongovernmental organization that collaborated with the Mexican government to establish the camp.

Anastasiya Polo, a spokesperson for United with Ukraine, said Ukrainians still in Europe should apply for the US government’s program and not waste money and efforts traveling to Mexico. Before the camp was established in Mexico City, Ukrainians traveled to Tijuana, on the US-Mexico border.

“We’re asking people from Europe, Ukrainians, to go through the Europe program, not come to Mexico because it’s much more expensive for them, it’s a lot of travel,” Polo said. The camp will close on June 1, but Ukrainians who remain in Mexico will continue to receive support.

The program, Uniting for Ukraine, was announced by the US government on April 21. Four days later, Ukrainians who showed up at the US-Mexico border were no longer exempt from a pandemic-related rule that has been used to quickly expel migrants without an opportunity to seek asylum for the past two years.

To qualify, people must be in Ukraine since February 11; have a sponsor, which can be a family or an organization; meet vaccination and other public health requirements; and go through background checks.

More than 6.5 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded its smaller neighbor on February 24, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

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