In Poland, non-Ukrainian refugees face an uncertain future

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Nearly 2.7 million refugees from Ukraine have arrived in Poland, including more than 99,000 foreigners who were working or studying in Ukraine. In Warsaw, an association opened a hotel to welcome and assist them. a report.

From our correspondent in WarsawAnd

In this two-storey building on the outskirts of Warsaw, about fifteen flags were hung on the wall and the words of thanks were written in several languages ​​​​on a large sheet of paper.

Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, India, Sudan, Morocco, Congo, Mali,” Since the beginning of the war, we have received refugees of more than 34 nationalities It can accommodate about 70 people per night, says Marianna Osoulinska, member of the Kik (Catholic Intellectuals Club) and coordinator of the hotel. ” À l’origine, nous avions prévu d’accueillir chaque personne pour une durée de trois jours, mais nous avons observé que beaucoup d’entre eux ne sont pas prêts en si peu de temps à déul’ilc fairc et vequent ce for longer”coordinator notes.

Words of thanks in several languages ​​for the refugees staying in the hotel © Club Intelligence Católica / Katarzyna Jakoska

Sitting in the dining hall, Lilian Bauchi, a 31-year-old Nigerian medical student in her fifth year at Uzhhorod University in western Ukraine, silently eats lunch. The young woman, who fled Ukraine with only a suitcase full of medical books, found refuge in this hotel where the quiet allowed her to continue her lessons from a distance.

You have completed the formalities to apply for a student permit » in Bologna, wait for respond “,”He is captivated by this student who does not wish to return to Nigeria as the insecurity is considered too great. ” But if I get this permit, I will have to think about how I will be able to continue my studies in Poland, because tuition fees are three times higher than in Ukraine ”, she is worried, hoping to find a job this summer so that she can finance her studies. According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, just over 76,500 foreigners were studying in Ukraine in 2020.

► To listen also: Ukraine: Support for refugees

Unequal treatment of refugees

If the Law on Assistance to Citizens of Ukraine, adopted in Poland on March 12, legalizes the 18-month stay of Ukrainian refugees and binational spouses in the country and allows access to the labor market and social assistance, it does not apply to third-country nationals who have fled Ukraine. ” It is therefore very important to have a hotel to accommodate non-Ukrainian refugees, because they often find themselves in a more difficult situation than others, especially since the law only allows them to stay 15 days in Poland. ”, as Marianna Osolinska points out. Especially since some refugees do not want to return to their countries of origin, having lived for many years in Ukraine.

There is a huge difference in treatment.”The association’s lawyer, Anisekza Matejchuk, adds Stowarzyszenia Interwencji Prawnej. This NGO visits the hotel regularly to inform non-Ukrainian refugees of their rights. Those who have a permanent residence permit in Ukraine can apply for temporary protection from the European Union. But for those who have been staying there temporarily, and this is the case for foreign students, residency in Poland is more complicated.

They have to go through the standard procedures and there are many criteria required to obtain a temporary residence permit, including the need to have sufficient financial resources. Agnieszka Matejczuk says. But this is impossible in many cases, because those refugees who fled the war have nothing! The lawyer cheers, who demands that certain standards be reduced and the length of authorized stay extended. He considers that fifteen days is not enough time to assess study or work opportunities in Poland.

Shelter and escort

For those people who pray Often very tired, very sad and shocked »», the association and the 80 volunteers working in this hotel provide free accommodation, meals, clothing and health products. ” Non-Ukrainian refugees are not often hosted by private individuals and are more difficult to find housing than Ukrainian refugees ,” notes Mariana Osoulinska, the foundation’s coordinator. It may be easier to accommodate women and children than a group of men “, as you say.

The volunteer tells the story of three students from Tajikistan in Ukraine who should have been hosted by the Poles, before the latter changed their minds: Polish law offers – minimal – compensation for refugee housing, but only for those with Ukrainian citizenship. ” Non-Ukrainian refugees in our hotel are well aware that they are treated differently, and this is true »And Marianna Osolinska confirms, giving an example of certain buses leaving Poland for Western European countries, which are intended for refugees of Ukrainian nationality.

We try to accompany them as much as possible, by informing them of the possibility of contacting their embassies or when transportation to other European countries is possible. »And Marianna Ossolińska explains. The temporary residence center has to close its doors at the end of May, and the owner has to restore the building for the summer season. ” We decided to open a new one, because non-Ukrainian refugees will not disappear, the needs are great », announces the coordinator who indicates that she is looking for a larger space, to be able to accommodate between 120 and 150 refugees.

► Read also: War in Ukraine: Young Africans recount their mass exodus and seek help from their governments

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