Ukrainian refugees arrive in Poland ‘in a state of distress and fear’ – Global Issues

Poland remains the main arrival country for refugees from UkraineUNHCR spokesman Olga Sarrado told reporters during a regular press conference in Geneva.

And while the pace has slowed compared to early March — when more than 100,000 people arrived a day — May continued to witness about 20,000 daily arrivals.

Vulnerable Refugees

Although more people are going back and forth across the border into Ukraine — for reasons such as family visits or returning to work — Ms Sarrado said that given the ongoing hostilities, “Poland expects to continue to receive and host a significant number of refugees.”

Newly arrived refugees often come from areas hard hit by the fighting, some hiding for weeks in air raid shelters and cellars‘ she told the press.

“They often arrive in a state of distress and fear, having left relatives behind, with no clear plan for where to go and with fewer economic resources and connections than those who have fled before.”

Need services

Besides questions about transport, financial support, housing and access to social services, the main concerns of the refugees revolve around health services and medical needs.

“Poland has put in place systems to guarantee legal residence, access to employment, education, health care and other social security schemes for Ukrainian refugees,” the UNHCR spokesman said.

The Polish authorities have registered more than 1.1 million people, 94 percent of whom are women and children, and have given them a state identification number that allows access to services.

Multisectoral response

UNHCR supports government-led efforts with protection services, cash assistance, emergency supplies and shelter capacity.

“UNHCR rolled out its cash aid program in March,” said Ms Sarrado, adding that the agency has so far established eight cash enrollment centers in key refugee reception areas, including Warsaw, Krakow, Poznan, Wroclaw, Ostroda, Gdynia and Gdansk.

More than 100,000 refugees from Ukraine have already received funding from UNHCR to meet their basic needssuch as paying rent or buying food and medicine.”

For a period of three months, cash is provided to the most deprived – serving as a temporary emergency safety net – until they are more self-supporting or integrated into government social security systems.

“Almost 20 percent of refugees registered for financial assistance have specific needs,” she explains.

Provide security

In cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UNHCR has set up 12 Blue Dot Safe Spaces in Poland, where refugees can receive immediate psychosocial support and access information about rights and services.

Critical protection assistance is also provided to people with specific needs, including referrals to specialist services and legal advice.

Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to deliver humanitarian supplies to Ukraine from Poland and has so far dispatched 139 relief trucks to help displaced and conflict-affected people in the country.

“Poland people and authorities have shown extraordinary generosity in welcoming refugees from Ukraine,” said Ms Sarrado. “Strong commitment and support from the international community will be crucial to maintain this solidarity.”

Response plan

UNHCR stands ready to continue helping the Polish authorities to ensure that refugee needs are protected, met with dignity and can be turned into sustainable solutions.

In support of the government-led response, UNHCR has coordinated the development of a Regional Action Plan for Refugees bringing together 87 partners in Poland.

The UNHCR spokesman called for $740.6 million to cover Poland’s priority needs and informed journalists that the plan is only 25 percent funded.

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