The morning after Russia invaded Ukraine, Maria Horanik did what hundreds of thousands of Poles would soon do: She signed up to host refugees in her home in Krakow.
In the evening, she received a call: a family from Lviv was on their way.
“We didn’t even discuss it,” said Ms. Houranek, a freelance journalist whose partner, also a journalist, left immediately to cover the war. “It was clear we were going to do it.”
Of the 1.7 million people who have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion, more than a million have made their way to Poland, According to the United Nations.
This massive and sudden influx of refugees has led to the emergence of huge numbers of refugees popular movement Across the Polish community, mobilizing individuals to raise funds and provide free accommodation and transportation to refugees.
More than 500,000 Polish have joined Facebook group nationwide Support format. In some places, the supply was greater than the demand, as local authorities called on citizens to refrain from driving to the borders to offer free rides, because they caused traffic jams.
Years of nationalist anti-refugee policies have left Poland with a fragmented immigration system. Now it is mostly up to the citizens to deal with what UNHCR said “The fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
Guests of Mrs. Horanik arrived on Friday evening: Kostyantyn Komkov, a software developer, Olena Poretskova, a fashion designer, and their 5-year-old son, Thomas. As soon as the invasion began, the family immediately left their apartment in Lviv for their friends who were leaving Kyiv, and crossed the border into Poland. “I had been anticipating an attack for the past two years, and when I saw Russian forces building on the border, I knew that was what had happened,” said Ms. Boretskova.
For Tanya Fidesk, a nurse from Luck in western Ukraine, who also received asylum in Poland, the decision about whether to stay or leave was not immediate. When the Russian army first entered eastern Ukraine, she and her husband decided to wait 24 hours. “We had hoped that the situation would not develop into a full-scale invasion,” Ms. Videsk said. “But as the hours went by, it became clear that things were getting worse.”
The next morning, Mrs. Fedchyk and her two-year-old son, got into a car and drove to Wroclaw, Poland. The flight went relatively smoothly, except for a 10-hour wait at the border. But farewell to their husbands and father, who remained in luck to build the barriers, they left their hearts aching.
In Wroclaw, they are hosted by Robert and Hana Reisigová-Kielawski, an English teacher and HR supervisor, who live with their two children. The couple did not have an extra room in the apartment, so they moved their 5-year-old daughter to their bedroom.
“While we were waiting for their arrival, we got nervous,” said Mr. Reisigová-Kielawski. “We had no idea what physical and emotional state they would be in. I wondered how we should act to be as helpful as possible, but not confuse them either. What issues should we discuss and which are best left unmentioned?”
One thing was clear from the start: they didn’t ask their guests how long they were planning to stay. Their invitation did not have an expiration date.
But whenever they asked if Mrs. Fidesk needed anything, she would say, “No, thank you. We are only here for a few days.” As the invasion began, it became clear that those days could turn into weeks, possibly longer.
Since the war began, Ukrainians on both sides of the border have faced uncertainty. In Poland, the government is preparing an emergency bill that would make it easier for Ukrainians to access the labor market and some social benefits available to permanent residents.
Commentators He indicated that The warm welcome received by Ukrainian refugees stands in stark contrast to the public’s response to Humanitarian crisis on the border with Belaruswhich peaked in October. The government has not opened the border to these refugees, most of whom are from the Middle East, and has banned aid workers from the border area – Policies widely supported by PolS.
The Reisigová-Kielawskis, who have long been active in various refugee support programs, were frustrated.
“During that crisis, the government made it very difficult for Poles to help refugees, and unfortunately many people chose to ignore it,” Mr. Rzygova Kelowski added. “The people’s movement to help Ukrainians, which we’re seeing at the moment, is a massive and heartwarming movement, but I have the impression that it also lined up with guilt that we as a society didn’t do enough at the time.”
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