Refugees in Poland - facts and myths

On 22 September, Poland supported the decision on relocation of refugees in the European Union countries. How many persons will we admit? Where will they come from? When will they arrive? Here are the answers to frequently asked questions.

Photo: Fotolia

Have the Polish demands on admitting refugees been fulfilled?

Yes. We requested, among other things, for lack of automatism in admitting refugees, the possibility to refrain from admitting them in certain cases, strengthening of the EU external borders, as well as full and genuine verification aimed, for example, at ensuring security and separating economic migrants from refugees. All of Poland’s most important demands have been fulfilled.

How many people will Poland admit?

In July we took the decision to admit 2 thousand refugees. On 22 September Poland took the decision to admit 5,082 persons. Their final number may, however, be smaller, because the process of admitting refugees will be joined by, e.g. Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland and Norway.  It means that in total approximately 6,500-6,800 persons will arrive in Poland.

Where will the persons who we will admit come from?

These will be the refugees who are currently staying in Italy and Greece (apart from the group of 900 persons who will be admitted as part of resettlement). They are mainly citizens of Syria and Eritrea.

Will all refugees arrive in Poland at the same time?

No. The whole process has been spread for 2 years (from 2016 to 2017). Refugees will arrive gradually in small groups of 150 persons, approximately every four months. Thanks to it, we will facilitate the process of adaptation to the new conditions and integration with Polish society to the maximum.

When will the first refugees arrive in Poland?

In 2016.

Where will the refugees who will arrive in Poland be sent?

The persons admitted will not immediately be sent to the places proposed by parishes and local governments. The refugees who will be granted protection in Poland will be sent to open centres run by the Office for Foreigners. Currently, we have 11 such centres. Upon their arrival in Poland, they will be covered with the reintegration programme, and when the procedure has been completed, with the integration programme. These persons will have access to health care, information courses which facilitate the adaptation process, Polish language courses, as well as vocational training. The youngest ones and adolescents will be obliged to attend school. Upon obtaining the refugee status, the foreigners will be allowed to submit an application for a one-year so-called integration programme – implemented by poviat family support units supervised by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy.

Will Poland manage with the adaptation?

Yes. The number of the refugees we will admit will not cause problems to our migration structures. In the 1990s, Poland admitted over 80,000 refugees from Chechnya, and the whole process was not a problem to the Polish migration services. 

Will the refugees be verified?

Yes. Security issues are an absolute priority to us. Each person will be verified as early as by the countries of their first arrival. Poland will receive the whole documentation of such a person, including their fingerprints. Each person will be verified by the services of the member states, which will cooperate with one another. Poland may refuse to admit a given person at any time. Liaison officers of the Polish Border Guard will be present in the countries where the refugees who are going to come to Poland stay. They will have direct contact with those who are in charge of this procedure, as well as with the candidates for relocation themselves.

Will we admit so-called economic migrants?

No. Poland will admit only refugees, i.e. persons who may justifiably fear persecution in their country of origin. Separation of refugees from economic migrants will be possible thanks to detailed verification of each person. 

Will we be allowed to indicate the refugees we want to admit?

Yes. We have the possibility of influencing who will arrive in Poland. The member states may indicate which groups of refugees will integrate best in their opinion.

What will happen in the case of deterioration of the situation in Ukraine?

We will be allowed to refrain from admitting the number of people declared in the case of a sudden influx of refugees from Ukraine or if there is a genuine risk of such a situation taking place.

Will, in the case of further influx of refugees, automatism in admitting them be applied, i.e. will the EU indicate a specific number of persons we need to admit without the right to negotiate?

No. Neither the July, nor the September decision will be taken into account in the future. All mechanisms and calculation models related to admitting refugees which could be used as an algorithm to relocate them in the EU countries have been eliminated from the decision. Each subsequent division of the quotas will require a separate decision of the EU Member States.

Will Poland receive financial aid from the EU to help the refugees?

Yes. The EU funds will finance accommodation of refugees in Poland. The EU will reimburse to Poland EUR 10 thousand for each refugee admitted from the Middle East and EUR 6 thousand for each refugee who stays in the camps in the EU - in Greece and Italy.

What about border control in Italy and Greece?

The decision on relocation of refugees to other EU Member States has obliged Greece and Italy to implement genuine control on their respective borders, in order to prevent more refugees from getting to the EU territory.

See also