June 2023

Polish Support of Ukraine

After the Russian attack on Ukraine, Polish people rushed to help their neighbours in need with hitherto unseen acts of fraternal aid and love.

War-torn Context

Between 24 February 2022 and 22 January 2023, approximately 9.5 million refugees from Ukraine, mainly women and children, crossed into Poland. Many continued to travel west in search of a safe haven, and many returned to Ukraine after the initial shock of war, but a large number have remained in Poland.

As Poland is part of the EU’s Schengen Area, it is difficult to keep an accurate tally of numbers, especially with the chaotic backdrop of war, but conservative estimates indicate there are currently 2.3 million Ukrainians in Poland, of which 1 million are refugees.

Working Refugees

Ukrainians want to work in Poland. The number of legally employed Ukrainians in Poland is almost 20% higher than last year (around three-quarters of a million), almost half of whom are women.

According to some reports, about two-thirds of Ukrainian refugees of working age have found work. This is a success story not only in regional but in global terms, and in the context of the professional activation of refugees.

Average Joe

Poland reacted extremely quickly to the incredible influx of people flooding in from war-affected Ukraine. Not only did the “average Joe Kowalski” get to work on providing food and shelter to those in need, but already by 12 March 2022 (only 16 days after the Russian attack), in the face of rapidly swelling numbers of refugees, Poland adopted a special Act on Assistance to Ukrainian Citizens.

As well as providing financial assistance, the Act legalised the residence of Ukrainian refugees in Poland, facilitated their employment and business activities, admitted their children into Polish schools and provided places for them in higher education institutions.

Future is Bright

The Polish labour market is still open and receptive. Data shows that the unemployment rate in Poland was only 2.9% in December 2022 (on a par with Germany).

We are all waiting for peace in Europe and wish Ukrainians a safe return to their homes, but we realise that many of them may have nowhere to return to. Therefore, just as we have kept our hearts open, we have also left the door open for them on our labour market.

Article by Arkadiusz Cegiełka, originally published by GGI