Nearly 300,000 Ukrainian refugees are hosted in Warsaw, increasing the capital’s population by around 17%. She and other Polish towns recently warned they had reached limits on the number of people they could help and called on the government to seek international support.
These calls were backed yesterday by President Andrzej Duda, who also “called on the international community to help Poland” deal with the refugee crisis.
‘We can’t take in any more refugees’: Polish cities call on government to seek help from EU and UN
As of this morning, 1.95 million people have entered Poland from Ukraine since the Russian invasion three weeks ago. The figure is now expected to exceed two million.
The government has not set up camps or other large-scale housing facilities, and as a result those crossing the border have often moved to larger towns, which they consider the best places to find help, housing and work.
A Warsaw City Hall spokesperson, Monika Beuth-Lutyk, told RDC on Tuesday that 200 trains and more than 800 buses carrying refugees have arrived in Warsaw since the Russian invasion. Municipal organizations and more than 10,000 volunteers supported more than 160,000 people.
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With many refugees arriving by other means – particularly by car – and in some cases not seeking assistance from local authorities – for example if they already have friends or relatives in town – the total number of people staying in Warsaw has reached almost 300,000, the town hall announced. yesterday.
“This means that the number of inhabitants of Warsaw has increased by around 17% since the start of the invasion,” he said in a statement.
The city authorities themselves provided more than 25,000 people with places to sleep for at least one night. Other housing was provided by provincial authorities, NGOs, businesses, religious organizations and other groups, while many Poles took refugees into their homes.
With around half of the refugees fleeing to Poland being children, schools in Warsaw are accepting around 800 to 1,000 new pupils per day. Twelve babies of Ukrainian refugees have been born in hospitals in Warsaw.
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The city was supported in its efforts by Paris, Vienna and Zagreb. Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski thanked them for their help. But he also repeatedly called for more support from the national government and the establishment of an international aid system.
Other cities – including Krakow, which on Sunday estimated it was hosting around 70,000 to 90,000 refugees, around 9 to 12 percent of its previous population – have issued similar calls.
Speaking yesterday during a visit to meet his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Duda also suggested that international support was needed.
“We have a refugee crisis in our country,” he said, quoted by the Polish News Agency (PAP). “I call on the whole international community for help for Poland… If we don’t receive international support, we will be in a very difficult situation.”
— PAP (@PAPinformacje) March 16, 2022
Main image credit: Jacek Marczewski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl
Agnieszka Wądołowska is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. She previously worked for Gazeta.pl and Tokfm.pl and contributed to Gazeta Wyborcza, Wysoki Obcasy, Format Duży, Midrasz and liberal culture