A Ukrainian MP has said that refugees in Ireland are “overwhelmed” by the support of Irish people since the outbreak of the war.
Alona Shkrum, who is among a cross-party group of Ukrainian MPs who addressed the Seanad on Tuesday, said they are grateful for the support from the Irish public.
The group also called on Irish politicians to support their efforts to join the European Union.
“In these times friendship is super-important and we know that the support you have given to us and 35,000 refugees is unprecedented and will be never be forgotten,” Ms Shkrum said outside the gates of Leinster House.
“We spoke to Ukrainians here to find out how the process is working and how they apply for housing. They are overwhelmed what the Irish are doing for them.
“Unfortunately, the war is going to another stage right now. I am afraid Putin is ready to starve a couple of continents just to re-establish his so-called Russian empire.
“He is blocking the ports of the Black Sea for Ukraine to export food to Europe, Middle East countries, to African countries and it could effect more than one billion people.
“The Irish know too well what it is to be in hunger and when hunger is used as a weapon. We know too well as Ukrainians what it is to have man-made hunger which we had 90 years ago created by the Soviet Union.
“We should make sure together that this is absolutely the last time any dictator in the world is using food as a weapon.”
She called for more funding to help with the war against Russia.
Cathaoirleach of Seanad Mark Daly said the delegation is visiting Ireland to ask for support from politicians and the public.
“They are asking Ireland to be a supporter of Ukraine’s membership of the European Union and be advocates for their membership, which we are,” Mr Daly said.
“We will talk to our colleagues across Europe to support that application and support refugees and the non-military aid, which we will continue to give to Ukraine and their people.
“We have spoken to members of Congress and other parliamentarians across the world to ensure the fight that is going on in Ukraine, is not just a fight for the people of Ukraine but a fight for all of Europe and its values.”
Mr Daly, who visited Ukraine in May where he met the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, said the Ukrainians are “putting up a fight” against the Russians.
“They cannot do this on their own. They need the support of Europe and the world,” he added.
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