Since February 2022, almost 10 million people have crossed from Ukraine into Poland, fleeing the armed conflict in search of safety and international protection. Poland is the second biggest transit and receiving country in the region (after Russia), with close to 1.6 million individuals registered for temporary protection. The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and operational partners estimate upwards of 2 million refugees will remain in Poland for the foreseeable future.
In Poland, 7 out of 10 displaced people struggle to cover their basic needs, despite the enabling legal environment and access to different social assistance mechanisms. Third-country nationals (TCNs) who fled from the conflict in Ukraine are particularly affected. They lived in Ukraine prior to 24 February 2022, but are not eligible for rights and benefits under the EU Temporary Protection Directive. In addition, needs also exist at the Poland-Belarus border, which has seen an increased influx of migrants and asylum seekers into Polish territory since the end of 2021.
In cooperation with the City of Warsaw, NRC established a transit site at East Warsaw train station for people fleeing the war in Ukraine. The site offers a safe place for refugees to rest, eat, and obtain trusted and safe information to inform their next steps, whether these are in Warsaw, elsewhere in Poland, or abroad. While NRC manages the overall site, there are several service providers operating there, including both local and international organisations. For housing, NRC is working with local partners and the private sector to explore solutions to reinforcing host family support as well as facilitating access to the rental market for refugees.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
Access to safe and reliable information, counselling and legal assistance remains a key priority for NRC. The focus of our ICLA work is on access to basic services and matters related to travel and legal stay, civil documentation, and security of tenure. NRC is working with partners who support Ukrainian refugees, as well as local organisations who support those crossing from Belarus. All partners provide hotlines and counselling points to offer information on a range of themes, from legal stay to service provision. Our local partners include the Legal Bar Association, Ukraine House, We Are Monitoring (former the Polish Hospitality Foundation), and Słuszna Strawa.
For formal education, NRC works with local partners to train teachers nationwide on subjects including psychosocial support and cross-cultural integration for conflict-affected children and their peers. For non-formal education, NRC is working on recreational learning activities in collective shelters, supporting those studying the Ukrainian curriculum remotely, as well as exploring ways to support Ukrainian schools in Poland. Additionally, NRC is supporting a youth club run by one of our partners in Warsaw to facilitate refugee adolescents and young people mingling with their peers in Poland and engaging in unstructured psychosocial and recreational activities. Our local partners include CEO, CUF, GPAS, EMIC, FSD, Polza, and KIK.
Access to basic needs remains a priority for vulnerable new arrivals, as well as vulnerable households facing protracted stays in Poland. With our partner, the Polish Center for International Aid (PCPM), NRC will continue providing multi-purpose cash assistance (MPCA) to refugees from Ukraine in Lublin, Warsaw and Gdansk as well as other locations. NRC will be linking PCPM with other partners to support safe referral pathways and support for a multitude of refugee needs. Learning from the collaboration with PCPM led to the joint publication Equality vs Equity, which was presented to relevant stakeholders in Poland to encourage public discourse on complementary approaches to social protection.
About NRC in Poland
- German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO)
- Government of Liechtenstein
- Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- Various private donors