One month on from the escalation of conflict in Ukraine, an IRC needs assessment that has so far surveyed over 400 people in 3 cities across Poland shows the need for continued support and integration efforts for people fleeing violence.

Heather Macey, International Rescue Committee Team Lead in Poland said:

“Over 2 million people have fled to Poland in under a month, making this the fastest displacement crisis we’ve seen since the second World War. The government of Poland has acted quickly to both legalize the stay of Ukrainians in Poland and to provide access to social services like healthcare, education and financial assistance. However, to receive most benefits, registration for a Polish ID number is required. Even with the swift registration systems established by the Polish government, it will be a long process to register the over one million people who are expected to stay on in Poland.

IRC’s needs assessment in Poland revealed that Ukrainian survey respondents’ most commonly-listed need was by far, ‘a job’. Whether they are eager to stay in Poland or want to return to Ukraine as soon as possible, Ukrainian refugees want to give back to their Polish hosts. The assessment also found the majority of survey respondents were elderly or mothers with children who were sole caregivers of their children in Poland and are eager to find work.

“Investment in integration efforts for refugees in Poland and countries neighboring Ukraine is needed as soon as possible - including for non-Ukrainian nationals. This includes ensuring translation is available for access to services, reception classes so that children can attend school, language classes and access to all necessary documents, as well as support to enter the labor market.  For refugees, access to the labor market is the means to regain their autonomy and rebuild their lives in dignity and security which also has a positive impact on their host countries’ prosperity. 

“For single mothers, in addition to programs that protect and support them, it is critical that integration responses ensure provision of childcare and targeted support through benefits for women who would like to work.”

A truly pan-European response will be needed. States neighboring Ukraine must make full use of the help offered by the EU Asylum Agency, EU funding, and other EU countries, to make sure that refugees are supported in an equitable and sustainable way across the continent. 

In Poland, the IRC is working with partners to provide information services through an existing hotline, offering legal counseling and psychological support, and is facilitating access to services, through social workers, interpreters, and cultural assistants to displaced people. With partners in Ukraine IRC is also providing evacuation services and essential items to those that have become displaced according to individual needs. This could include blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothes or cash assistance.