Japan plans to dispatch a Self-Defense Forces airplane possibly later this month to help countries receiving Ukrainian refugees transport relief items, in a mission expected to last until the end of June, government sources said Thursday.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine in its second month and some 4 million people having fled their homes, the sources said the SDF plane will pick up supplies, such as blankets and sleeping mats, stockpiled in Dubai and India's Mumbai, and transport them to Poland and Romania, countries neighboring Ukraine.

Japan is considering sending a C-2 transport aircraft of the Air Self-Defense Force, with the plane expected to transport the items once a week from late April and have a total of around 10 flights, according to the sources.

The dispatch, which will be decided by the Cabinet next week at the earliest, is in response to a request by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, according to the sources.

The SDF plane will be sent as part of international humanitarian relief operations in line with the country's International Peace Cooperation Act that enables Japanese participation in U.N. peacekeeping operations as well as other operations, the sources said.

Earlier this month, the government decided to donate aid supplies such as blankets to the U.N. refugee agency. The supplies will be sent to Warsaw via a different route from the SDF aircraft set to leave Japan later this month.

In March, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government delivered bulletproof vests and helmets to war-torn Ukraine via Poland by SDF planes.

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