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Press Release

Ukraine: As almost 3 million people flee to Poland, IRC scales up response to reach people in need

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As the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to escalate, more than 5 million people - mainly women and children - have fled to neighbouring countries. Almost 3 million people have now entered Poland, where the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is providing vital safety and support to families across the country. 

Jason Phillips, IRC Poland Team Lead, said, “The escalating conflict in Ukraine is causing grave harm to millions of families, many of whom are attempting dangerous journeys across the country in a bid to flee. Two months ago, it would have been unimaginable that the world would witness a crisis at this scale, and now we are facing the grim reality of one of the fastest displacements the world has ever seen. 

“Refugees in Poland continue to arrive traumatised, and in need of vital support, including shelter and trauma counselling. We have seen strong leadership from civil society organizations, private sector and government institutions in Poland who have mobilised quickly to support refugees from Ukraine. The IRC is working with Polish organisations to meet the needs of displaced families, many living in shelters across the country, helping to deliver cash support, pay the salaries of Ukrainian teachers, and provide safe spaces for children. 

“The outpouring of support for Ukrainians globally has demonstrated what is possible when it comes to providing a safe and dignified welcome to refugees. The role of the international community is to support host countries to ensure that every person fleeing war and persecution has access to support and protection. European states like Poland have shown an important commitment to welcoming people in need of protection, and the IRC is hopeful that this will translate into sustained support for refugees everywhere.”

In partnership with Polish Centre for International Aid (PCPM) the IRC is providing cash support to families living in cities across Poland, including Lublin, Gdańsk, Łódź, and Poznań, to ensure they are able to buy essential supplies like food, medicine and clothing for children. Meanwhile, our teams are working with partners to set up Safe Healing and Learning Spaces across nine shelters in Warsaw, which will provide families, and children in particular, the space they need to recover from the trauma they have endured..

Notes to editors:

The IRC is partnering with three organisations in Poland, including:

  • Polish Red Cross, who are providing emergency assistance to people at border points and relocation points including basic psychosocial support, mental health support, WASH and sleeping items (beds, pillows, blankets). 
  • Polish Forum for Migration, who provide information on available assistance, services, and rights, along with in person and remote mental health support by trained psychologists, and,
  • Polish Centre for International Aid (PCPM), one of the largest Polish NGOs that provides refugee assistance in some of world’s most challenging humanitarian crises. With IRC support, PCPM is providing cash support to around 2,000 families who have fled Ukraine and are now living in smaller towns and cities across Poland, such as Lublin, Gdansk, Lodz and Poznan. Meanwhile, IRC is also supporting PCPM to scale up the Cash for Work programme, matching Ukrainian teachers to jobs in Poland and delivering cash support to ensure their salaries. This approach means that teachers can work flexibly, working in schools where Ukrainian language skills are most needed.  

The IRC has been responding to humanitarian crises in Europe since 2015, where we launched an emergency response to the peak in migration in Greece and relaunched operations in Serbia. Our teams provided water, health and sanitation, and psychosocial support to refugees and migrants. Since then, the IRC has also provided support to refugees and migrants in Germany from 2016, Italy from 2017, and Bosnia-Herzegovina from 2020. Last year, the IRC also started to provide integration support to refugees and their local communities in the UK.  

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and over 20 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.