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11 Feb, 2024 12:04

Attitude to Ukrainians shifting dramatically in Poland – survey

Most Poles now oppose continued benefits for Ukrainians, according to a poll cited by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper
Attitude to Ukrainians shifting dramatically in Poland – survey

A growing number of Poles oppose state-financed payouts, free accommodation, and meals for Ukrainian refugees, a recent survey cited by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper has suggested. With approximately one million such recipients of state benefits in Poland, Donald Tusk’s government plans to issue special bonds to continue financing the program, the media outlet noted.

In an article on Friday, the outlet cited the results of a poll conducted last month, which revealed that 53% of respondents opposed child-related benefits for Ukrainian refugees, with 21% in favor; 47% are against equal access to social assistance, and 44% want the government to stop providing Ukrainian refugees with free housing and meals, while 21% back benefits. Rzeczpospolita pointed out that in April 2022, 50% of Poles were in favor, with only 20% against.

Under the temporary protection bill passed in April 2022, Ukrainian refugees receive housing, food, health care, access to education, and a full package of social assistance at the state’s expense. They are also entitled to a one-time payment of 300 zloty ($75) as well as regular benefits totaling 800 zloty ($200) per child. Warsaw also pays Ukrainian parents 1,000 zloty ($250) for the birth of a child.

The previous cabinet estimated that this assistance will cost the Polish government 4.3 billion zloty this year, with their successors in office saying the fund should be increased by a further 1.9 billion zloty, according to Rzeczpospolita.

The media outlet claimed that due to pressure from regional governments, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s government is working on new rules governing the provision of benefits and aid to Ukrainian refugees in the country. The main idea is reportedly to introduce verification procedures and ensure that state-funded benefits only go to those who are really in need.

Late last month, Rzeczpospolita, citing police data, reported that the influx of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their home country has had a negative impact on crime in Poland. According to the article, foreigners broke the law 17,278 times in 2023 – 2,400 more than in the previous year. Ukrainians were responsible for more than a half of these crimes, the media outlet said.
While a lot of the cases involved alcohol abuse and drunk driving, the number of thefts and drug-related crimes by foreigners also went up in Poland last year.

Earlier this month, Bild reported that in neighboring Germany, the government’s efforts to get more Ukrainian refugees to enter the labor market have been failing, with only 25.2% currently employed.