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Poland: Update on the situation of refugees from Ukraine (08.03.2022)

Yesterday was 13th day of the invasion of Russia in Ukraine. Although Russia's president Vladimir Putin supposed the war will be easy and victory will come quickly, the reality turned to be the opposite. Ukraine soldiers defend their land bravely and they resist strongly the opponent.

According to official information of the Polish Border Guard over 1,2 mln refugees from Ukraine already crossed the border with Poland, only today (07.03) 140 thousands people. Among them the majority are of course Ukrainians. Other nations with the biggest number of citizens crossing the border are Uzbekistan, Belarus, India, Nigeria. Each of them more than 2,000 people (data as for the 2 of March).

Countries of the European Union anonymously and very quickly agreed to introduce an extra law regarding Ukrainian citizens. It offers them an immediate protection statues and allows them a long-term stay, 12 moths. In practice it means they can freely move and stay in all countries of the EU. Regarding other nationalities that flee from Ukraine, among them many are students from Africa and Asia, once they crossed the border in Poland, they have 15 days to organize the travel back to their home countries. It is understandable as their respective countries are safe, not like the Ukraine. Recently, India brought over 400 refugees from Poland. 12 flights took place from Katowice bringing 2,5 thousands people back to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Iran.

Polish parliament is going to introduce a special act of law. It will allow Ukrainian refugees to stay in Poland for 18 months with the possibility to extend it. They will be granted a free access to the medical care. Labor market is open for them and they don’t need any extra permissions. There are some tax exemption for the refugees as well as for the companies that help them. Children are admitted to schools. Psychological help is also offered to them. Polish families that help refugees will be granted money compensation.

On behalf of the Church every local CARITAS offices offer an comprehensive assistance to the refugees. They guarantee shelter according to their means. In collaboration with parishes, CARITAS organizes material aid, both for the refugees in Poland as for the people in Ukraine. Fundraising in parishes was held twice already. Many CARITAS offices open eateries where hot food is offered. Legal assistance as well as psychological help is offered.

All SVD communities are actively helping in collaboration with local governments and CARITAS. Our communities give shelter to the Ukraine refugees. In Nysa, our parish and the community welcomed 21 of them, while the community in Krynica Morska took 9 people. Other communities also open doors and give shelter according to their means. Our SVD parishes work closely with the local CARITAS. They mostly conduct fundraising and organize material help. In Warsaw, our confreres working in the Migrant Center, focused on helping non-Ukrainian refugees. Thanks to the people of good heart, we were able to find families who welcomed 5 Nigerian students. 3 of them already went back home. We were in contact with other African and Latin American refugees but finally they decided to go to other countries in Europe. Fr. Jacek Gniadek SVD, director of the Migrant Center, in the very first days of the war, went to the border to see the situation. He himself brought 2 people for Africa and now they found shelter somewhere near Warsaw. Our confrere, fr. Joseph Nguyen Huy Them is very devoted now helping Vietnamese refugees. He said there are 7,000 Vietnamese migrants living in Ukraine and 500 of them fled to Poland. They are warmly welcomed by the Vietnamese families in Warsaw. Last weekend, during Sunday Eucharist, 2 Vietnamese communities conducted fundraising. The money they collected with be sent to our SVD communities in Ukraine. 3 Ukraine women recently started polish language course in the Migrant Center. While their children attend to school, they have free time to study polish. We are expecting more help for the Ukraine refugees in the future in the Migrant Center.

Source: POL JPIC Coordinator