POlen prepares for a new wave of refugees from Ukraine. Minister Agnieszka Ścigaj, responsible for “social integration”, said after consulting with the regional administrations that there were currently “far more than 100,000” places available in accommodation, which could also be increased. “Everything is ready.” However, her Ukrainian partners told her they would do everything to keep people in the country.
The targeted destruction of power plants and energy supplies in the neighboring country, which Russia began on October 10, has so far not led to a new wave of refugees. In fact, the daily reports from the Polish border guards up until Tuesday showed that the number of Ukrainians entering and leaving the country, including migrant workers, was roughly equal.
However, refugee workers are concerned about the coming days, when frost and snow are expected in large parts of Ukraine. In any case, according to an estimate by the UN migration authority IOM at the end of October, more than 6.5 million people were “displaced” within Ukraine, i.e. traveling as internally displaced persons in the country. If people are cut off from electricity and water, it is likely that there will be an increased flow of refugees towards the EU, writes the Warsaw Institute for Eastern Studies in a new analysis. This also applies to the areas around Cherson that have just been liberated.
1.3 million Ukrainians stayed in Poland
Kiev’s Minister for the Temporarily Occupied Territories, Iryna Wereshchuk, announced on Monday that the government would organize and offer evacuations, primarily to western Ukraine, with a view to infrastructure and security. In particular, people in need of help could not survive the winter in the Cherson region.
In order to encourage people to stay or return, Poland has so far built 19 so-called modular villages in Ukraine, according to the government, mostly in badly damaged places around the capital Kyiv. Another eight are under construction. There, people whose homes were destroyed can stay in furnished containers in the same place for a year free of charge.
This is also in the interest of Ukraine as a state, said Warsaw’s representative for Ukraine refugees, Paweł Szefernaker: “The Ukrainians know that another wave of refugees would mean defeat for them in this war. The Russians want the Ukrainians to leave their country and never come back.” The Polish government has so far spent the equivalent of almost 1.2 billion euros on accommodation, food and social benefits for the refugees in Poland. From February onwards, they are to be given a greater share of the maintenance costs.
According to Ścigaj, around 1.3 million of the previous war refugees from the country stayed in Poland; half a million of them have already found work. Together with those who will migrate until 2021, the number of Ukrainians is around 2.6 million. In the meantime one can speak of Poland as an “immigration country”, a total of eight percent of the population are foreigners, migration researcher Maciej Duszczyk from the University of Warsaw told the newspaper “Dziennik” at the weekend.