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Some 1.6 million Ukrainians find refuge in Poland

Darek Delmanowicz/PAP

About 1.6 million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter in Poland over the past year, a deputy interior minister has said.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered the biggest wave of refugees in post-war European history, with Poland taking in more people than any other European nation.

“It is an undertaking on an unimaginable scale in the world,” Pawel Szefernaker told the state-owned Polish Radio One on Thursday.

“There have been no refugee camps in Poland,” Szefernaker said, stressing that the vast majority of the refugees found homes with Polish families.

Initially, about half a million Ukrainians were placed in mass accommodation centres but by now only 80,000 of them are living there, he said.

Ukrainians are quickly adapting to Polish realities and want to lead normal lives here, the deputy minister said.

This is confirmed by the huge number of them, some 1.5 million, having applied for a PESEL, the national registration number which offers access to schools and healthcare, among other services.

“Today we’re estimating that about a 1.3-1.4 million people want to stay in Poland for longer,” Szefernaker said.

Refugee surveys show that close to 80 percent of them have become independent – they have found jobs and their children are attending schools, Szefernaker added.

Those who cannot provide for themselves, including the sick, the elderly, the disabled and those with a large number of children receive support from the Polish government, he continued.

Friday will mark the first anniversary of the Russian attack on Ukraine. 

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