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Gov’t official calls EU refugee help for Poland inadequate

The refugee aid that Poland has received so far from the European Union is “a drop in the ocean” the government refugee commissioner has said.

Poland has taken in the most refugees from Ukraine among all other nations after its eastern neighbour was invaded by Russia in February 2022. About 1.5 million are now estimated to be living in Poland.

In the first year of Russia’s war on Ukraine, Poland received PLN 900 million (EUR 191 million) from the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, Pawel Szefernaker told the private broadcaster Radio ZET on Monday.

“It is a drop in the ocean of needs,” he said, adding that thanks to having found a place to live in Poland, the refugees have not migrated further into the EU.

The UN and the US have offered significant support to non-governmental organisations, according to Szefernaker.

“The UNHCR, a UN agency that deals with refugees, spent close to PLN 3 billion (EUR 0.64 billion) in Poland (on activities – PAP) related to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the first year of operation,” the government commissioner said. “The plans are the same for the coming year.”

The government had not yet prepared a comprehensive financial report on the aid Poland has been providing to Ukrainian refugees, Szefernaker said, arguing that a realistic summary of all costs will only be possible after some time.

He said that an aid law passed when tens of thousands of Ukrainians started fleeing into Poland assumed that the government will spend more than PLN 10 billion, or several billion euros, on humanitarian aid.

“When it comes to the European Union, we were saying from the very beginning that there should be an extra fund for refugees,” Szefernaker said. “It has not been created.”

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