Poland pledges long-term support for Ukrainian refugees

Łukasz Gągulski/PAP

Poland will provide long-term support for Ukrainian nationals living Poland, the Polish government commissioner for refugees has said.

On March 12, President Andrzej Duda signed into law a special bill laying out the forms of assistance provided to Ukrainian refugees such as financial help to them and those hosting them, and legalising their stay in Poland.

Under the law, Ukrainians fleeing the war were also granted a PESEL national identification number and a legal stay in Poland. They are allowed to work and have access to the country's healthcare system, while Ukrainian students are able to continue learning in Polish schools and universities.

On Thursday, Pawel Szefernaker, the government commissioner for refugees, told MPs that the government plans to extend the assistance.

"The aid that we will provide to refugees from Ukraine is of a long-term nature and today we are entering its second stage," he said.

He explained that a 120-day allowance for families hosting refugees will be extended.

"Nothing ends at the end of June, the regulations adopted in March are still in place," Szefernaker said.

But he added that from now on "we are entering the second stage of helping refugees."

"We are leaving this humanitarian aid related to food for all, accommodation for all," Szefernaker said, adding that in the second stage aid will be provided to those who are most in need, such as people with disabilities, women with many children and the elderly.

He also said that on Wednesday, the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, amended the law on aid to Ukrainian nationals by introducing more flexible working regulations, offering Polish language courses to refugees and envisaging setting up kindergartens for Ukrainian children.