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26 Jan, 2024 10:44

Poland to cut benefits for Ukrainians – media

Local officials believe only the sick, dependent, and disabled can count on long-term aid, Rzeczpospolita reports
Poland to cut benefits for Ukrainians – media

Poland is planning to develop new rules for helping Ukrainian refugees, the Rzeczpospolita newspaper reported on Tuesday. Local officials believe that many immigrants are taking advantage of benefits to which they are not entitled, the paper noted.

A special protection regime for Ukrainian refugees which expires in early March will be extended for another six months, the paper claimed, adding that the rules of assistance are likely to significantly change following that.

Aneta Zochowska, of the Lena Grochowska Foundation for refugees, suggested that long-term state aid should be extended only to the sick, dependent and disabled, mainly from the frontline regions.

The article also noted that although the Polish government introduced a regulation last spring that Ukrainians living in shelters for a longer period of time should partially pay for food and accommodation, it hasn’t been enforced.

It is effectively ignored because children, disabled people and their guardians, as well as single parents with at least three children, are exempt from bearing those costs. Polish officials have instead been told to handle the issue of payments “in a humane manner,” Rzeczpospolita reported. As a result, it is almost impossible to verify the refugees’ financial status, with very few Ukrainians ending up paying the fees.

Against this backdrop, the Lena Grochowska Foundation introduced payments for Ukrainians in its refugee centers, varying from $25 to $75 per month per person, adding that “we mobilize the residents to work… we don’t want to teach them retroactive helplessness.”

Ukrainians legally residing in Poland are entitled to food and shelter. Families get a monthly stipend of $123 for their second child and for each additional child. They can also receive a one-time payment of $75 as well as a lump sum of $3,000 for a newborn, among other benefits.

However, in March 2023 the Polish government tightened the rules, allowing refugees to live in temporary accommodation for free for only 120 days from the moment they arrived in the country. After that, they have to cover 50% of their living costs, but no more than $10 per day, and after 180 days – 75% (no more than 15$).

As of late 2023, there were almost one million Ukrainian refugees recorded as residing in Poland, according to UN data. According to local officials, however, just over 40,000 Ukrainians are currently living in state-funded centers.