Poland to Start Charging Ukrainian Refugees for Accommodation
As of March of next year, the Polish government will be looking to charge Ukrainian refugees for beds in accommodation centres as the country faces economic difficulties in housing over a million people who have fled the conflict with Russia.
Poland will be charging Ukrainian refugees around 10 euros per day, or 40 Polish zloty, for beds in gymnasiums and other facilities that are being used as refugee accommodation.
The new policy, which was voted on by the Polish parliament this week, will begin in March of 2023 and will apply to any Ukrainian refugees who have lived in the country for at least four months in refugee accommodation, the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants reports.
According to the website, the move is designed in part to help increase the rate of integration of Ukrainians, who may now have to find jobs in order to pay their rent.
Humanitarian groups, however, have criticised the new policy, stating that basic humanitarian aid should remain free, and noted that it may be difficult for some refugees to find work in Poland as many suffer from mental issues from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Activists have also expressed concern some refugees may end up homeless as a result of the policy.
Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, Poland has taken in the most Ukrainian refugees of any European Union country at around 1.5 million, according to statistics from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
However, while 1.5 million people have registered for temporary protection in Poland, many who have crossed the border to escape the conflict have since returned home.
A United Nations report released earlier this week stated that while eight million Ukrainians have crossed the border into Poland since the start of the conflict, around six million have crossed back to Ukraine.
A total of 7.8 million Ukrainian refugees are still spread throughout the European Union.
Recent Russian strikes on critical infrastructures, such as power and water facilities, have led some to speculate there could be a new wave of Ukrainian refugees into the EU over the winter months, with European Commissioner for Home Affairs and Immigration, Ylva Johansson, warning that Russian president Vladimir Putin may be degrading infrastructure to purposely provoke a new wave of refugees.