Refugees living in collective accommodation to pay says deputy minister

Refugees living in collective accommodation will have to pay some their accommodation costs from next month, a deputy interior minister said on Monday.

Pawel Szefernaker said refugees who are working and "functioning normally" in Poland would be expected to cover at least half of their housing costs under changes to be brought in in the coming weeks.

Szefernaker, who is also the government commissioner for war refugees, told a private radio station on Monday that refugees would be asked to pay from mid-November.

"Many refugees who are living in collective accommodation centres have already been living there quite a long time," Szefernaker said. "The costs associated with maintenance are also rising.

"We want those people who have found work, who are already functioning normally in Poland, to participate in those costs at least to the level of 50 percent," he continued, going on to explain that the charges would not apply to disabled or retired people.

"There are mechanisms for people to not get used to the state eternally ensuring certain matters," he added.

The deputy minister added that currently around 80,000 refugees live in collective accommodation centres, of which about 2,000 are staying in a trade centre in Nadarzyn near Warsaw.

Asked if there would be a second wave of Ukrainian war refugees due to an energy crisis and a lack of power in some parts of Ukraine, Szefernaker replied: "At the moment there is no threat of a large refugee wave. However, the current situation in Ukraine, the bombing of many large cities, makes the situation in that country unstable and dynamic.

"As a neighbouring country, we must be prepared for various situations, including related to the situation on the front, Russia's aggression against Ukraine, as well as a lack of resources and heat," Szefernaker continued. "We are ready for that."

He said he was cooperating closely with Ukraine's ambassador to Poland and that the governors of the eastern Podkarpackie and Lubelskie provinces were in contact with their Ukrainian counterparts.

"Ukraine is primarily preparing for internal migration," he explained. "So that the Lviv oblast and other border oblasts take refugees from the east," he said, pointing out that it was also important for Ukraine for its citizens to remain in the country.