As the Ukrainian-Russian war persists, Ukrainians seek refuge in the major cities of neighboring countries. With Poland bordering the west of Ukraine, several migrants have opted for migration to areas such as Gdańsk, Kraków and Warsaw.
The Big Picture
Ukraine has faced devastating losses within the past two years, including 23,606 civilian casualties and 8,791 civilian deaths, as revealed by U.N. statistics. Along with these impacts, medical services such as clinics and hospitals have been severely disturbed in southern and eastern Ukraine due to destruction and unpredictable attacks from the Russians and restrictions on civilian activity.
According to Intereconomics, approximately 3.5 million Ukrainians have opted for migration to Poland since the beginning of the war, increasing Poland’s population drastically. Poland’s capital, Warsaw, has increased in population by 17% since the beginning of the war.
The Perceptions of Locals
Some locals find this change difficult to deal with, seeing the constant flow of Ukrainians as a burden to the city’s regular day-to-day flow. However, many of those who welcome refugees with open arms see it as a chance for Ukrainians to show their hard work and entrepreneurship in the Polish workforce.
One of these individuals includes 33-year-old Monika Kryszcuk, a Polish citizen born and raised in Warsaw who has witnessed how immigration rates have progressed firsthand. During an interview with The Borgen Project, Kryszcuk explains the Ukrainian migration to Poland is prevalent but not bothersome to her. She says that part of the reason she feels sympathetic for the migrants is that Poland has been where Ukraine is in past years.
“Poland was one of the most damaged countries in the second world war. Therefore we know how it is to flee your home, leave everything behind and just try to survive,” states Kryszcuk.
Present vs. Past
According to BBC News, by July 4, 2022, almost 1.2 million Ukrainians had applied for temporary residence in Poland. Kryszcuk says that the number of Ukrainians still migrating to Poland is now much lower than last year. She remembers several Ukrainian concerts, marches and protests in Warsaw’s streets, in the months of May and March 2022, calling for an end to the war. Now, she says that protests still happen but are less ostentatious.
In 2022, Kryszcuk and her mother would go to Warsaw’s train stations and pass out critical supplies such as clothes, water and canned food to Ukrainians migrating to other parts of Poland. Kryszcuk says people, including herself, now prefer to offer help by sending aid to organizations working inside Ukrainian borders, considering the escalating humanitarian situation there.
Efforts to Help
Kryszcuk says that she sees Ukrainian grandmothers every day on the streets of Warsaw who have most likely never before left the borders of Ukraine. Now, they are in a foreign country, scared and lost, not knowing what to do next.
The situation many Ukrainians have faced for the past year and a half is dire and there is no resolution in clear sight. However, Kryszcuk explains that people can help struggling Ukrainians through online donations. With Poland being one of the top countries for Ukrainian refugees to migrate to, Polish Humanitarian Action is a notable charitable organization to support to help the cause.
Janina Ochojska established PAH in 1992 and has helped more than 14.5 million people globally. The organization provides resources such as food and aid for those internally displaced or outside refugees fleeing their homes.
Additionally, anyone can support Ukrainian refugees through Poland’s government website under the title “Pomagam Ukraine” (Help Ukraine). Through the website, any individual is able to donate food, clothes and other essentials to refugees. The website includes updates on the refugee situation in Poland as well as a guide for donors who want to effectively support people in these types of difficult circumstances.
Overall, Warsaw, and Poland as a whole, have welcomed Ukrainian refugees with open arms. Organizations working on the ground in Poland provide assistance and crucial aid to these vulnerable Ukrainians, providing them with another chance at living normally as the war rages on back in their home country.
– Nina Donlin