Poland needs an effective crisis management system to replace the current system, which is based only on government actions, and to create procedures that will make it easier for local authorities and the residents helping them to support refugees. If we trusted the structures of the state, we would not have dealt with this crisis – says Marek Woźniak, Marshal of the Greater Poland Voivodeship.
The differences in solving problems related to the influx of refugees from Ukraine and the coordination of aid activities in the field of ensuring basic necessities and assimilation in the Polish labor market, in the education and health system – were discussed at the IMPACT’22 Congress during the debate “How Polish cities and regions help humanely.”
The largest influx of refugees was recorded in the major cities. Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, shelters in Pozna have hired 127,000 people. people, but many of them went further, incl. to Germany. 27 thousand. pelt. The inhabitants of Pozna have submitted three thousand. applications for subsidies of PLN 40 per person, about 9.5 thousand. refugees. 1,300 people were accommodated in halls, dormitories, the rest rent only flats or live with Polish families. The municipal office also transfers municipal flats to refugees.
“These people want to work, which makes us happy, because they pay taxes with us,” emphasizes Jędrzej Solarski, vice president of the city of Pozna.
The scale of the problems in smaller cities is different. Numbering 50 thousand. residents of Racibórz spent less than 900 peseli for the Ukrainians, 218 people use the resources of the municipality, which provides them with housing and food, and about 500 people are cared for by residents who have applied for PLN 40 co-financing. 90 percent of them are women with children.
“Not everyone asks for help. On the scale of a city with 50,000 inhabitants, a thousand extra people is a small number. You can see that they are willing to work, but there are not many jobs for us,” said Dariusz Polowy, mayor of Racibórz.
Yet another scale of problems concerns local government units which, like Chełm, are closest to the border with Ukraine.
“There are 23 km to the border crossing in Dorohusk and two other border crossings 30 km away. There are three reception points in Chełm, one of which is at the train station, where customs and border clearances also take place. Refugees disembarking from trains have their first contact with Poland here,” said Dorota Cieślik, mayor of the city of Chełm.
Dorota Cieślik explained that during the first three weeks of the war, some ten thousand refugees were registered at the reception point at the train station in Chełm, who were en route, crowding a hundred people in wagons for forty. The specificity of the place was to provide them with shelter and basic care, including medical, but also psychological and even veterinary help, consisting of chipping and vaccinating the pets with which refugees traveled.
“And then we ask the question: where are you going? Hi has a specific destination: Warsaw, Krakow, Pozna – but also Germany or Italy. However, there are also people who do not know where to go. Then we show them where to go, where open houses and hearts are waiting for them,” said Dorota Cieślik.
The president of Chełm pointed out that while most of the refugees stay in Chełm for a few or ten days, some of them remain in the city to this day. These are mainly people from the western part of Ukraine who are waiting for the conflict to end to return home as soon as possible. Many of them went to their families at Easter.
According to the Marshal of the Greater Poland Voivodeship, we are dealing with a crisis phenomenon for which Poland was not prepared from the perspective of the crisis management system, but which it has tackled mainly thanks to the dedicated efforts of the inhabitants, supported by non-governmental organizations.
“In 2015, Poland did not want to take in 5,000 people from Syria. Fortunately, the current refugees are Ukrainians, 100,000 of whom were in the Voivodeship before the Russian aggression. That is why the first refugee flow mainly went to friends and families who had already been to Poland with their own transport,” says Marek Woźniak.
The Marshal of the Greater Poland Voivodeship pointed out that the creation of a dedicated platform, under which local authorities from all over Europe can report the possibility of taking in refugees, proved helpful in coordinating activities. However, it turns out that Ukrainian women actually do not want to go to Western Europe, because, for example, in France there were rapes in refugee centers.
According to him, the Voivodeship is a supportive element of local governments. However, effective humanitarian aid requires the creation of structural and legislative solutions that coordinate the aid activities of the government, local government units, non-governmental organizations and residents. A pilot program is currently being worked on.
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