Warsaw mayor calls for system to deal with refugee flow from Ukraine

"We estimate that 320,000 people from Ukraine have passed through Warsaw, and 230,000 have remained in Warsaw. This is over 10 percent of people who live in the city," Rafal Trzaskowski said on Friday. Rafał Guz/PAP

The mayor of Warsaw has called for a “system” to be established to cope with the wave of refugees from war-torn Ukraine, saying the time for "improvisation" is over as 230,000 Ukrainians fleeing the war have decided to settle in the Polish capital.

Every day sees thousands of refugees arriving at Warsaw's bus and railway stations.

"We estimate that 320,000 people from Ukraine have passed through Warsaw, and 230,000 have remained in Warsaw. This is over 10 percent of people who live in the city," Rafał Trzaskowski said on Friday.

According to the mayor, without large reception centres and better logistics, Warsaw will not be able to cope with the challenge.

"The time of a great spurt of improvisation is running out, and we need a system," he said.

Trzaskowski added that while at the beginning of the crisis, 95 percent of the refugees who came to Warsaw were looked after by their families and friends, "today this is only 70 percent."

Even if Ukrainians were issued a PESEL (the national identification number) enabling them to get state support, he said, it would take several hundred people working for two months to organise this.

There is also a question of an appropriate IT system and places where the project would be carried out, he continued.

As one way of helping, Warsaw, so far, has established 76 special preparatory units for around 4,000 Ukrainian children at its schools.

According to Daniel Putkiewicz, the mayor of Piaseczno, a town within the Warsaw metropolitan area, just south of the capital, it is not possible to handle such numbers of new school children.

"We rely mainly on the efforts of volunteers," he said and added that it would be good if systems to cope with refugees could be put in place.

Artur Tusiński, the mayor of Podkowa Leśna, some 30 kilometres away from Warsaw, said that the local government and the residents are not prepared to support long-term refugees from Ukraine.

"Relocation, an attempt to relieve part of the burden of the refugee wave is now indispensable and it is something that must be done," he said.