“Today, the most frightening thing is that we do not know what our future holds. We want to go home, but Mariupol has no energy, no accommodation, no work. My children have no future “ Says Alexandra Huseinova.
The young woman, her daughters aged 8 and 14, and her sister Daria fled Mariupol on February 24 when the first Russian Grad rocket began to land in the city. One hundred days later, they volunteered at a refugee aid distribution center in Warsaw between a jar of jam and a mountain of pasta bags. On their mobile phones, they keep pictures of the family apartment, the walls and floor of which are strewn with rubble.
In Poland, more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have already found work
What do you do? Will you return to Ukraine? When will the war end? These questions plague refugees. For now, the big wave of arrivals seems to be over. Since the beginning of June, the number of people crossing the border into Ukraine has clearly exceeded the number entering.
Hundreds of thousands of uncertain Ukrainians
Since February 24, about 3.8 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have entered Poland. But how many are still there? Hard to count: 1.2 million received a social security number called “PESEL”, which provides legal work, health care and some allowances. But experts, who have quoted the number of telephone conversations from Ukrainian numbers in Poland, add one million people. Warsaw City Hall estimates the number of refugees in the capital at 200,000, with Ukrainian and Russian speaking everywhere.
According to the Ministry of Education, about 200,000 Ukrainian children attend school in Poland, of which 17,000 are in Warsaw. Others follow courses offered online from their country. Of the 450,000 adult refugees who received their PESEL, one in three got a job. While we have doubled this number to take into account the undeclared work, it reflects the uncertainty of the situation for thousands of people.
When the refugees arrived, Polish society responded unexpectedly. Volunteer structures for collecting and distributing grants have sprung up everywhere. They always work at full speed. The government, which started a little behind schedule, indirectly managed to improve its image abroad and in Poland, its quarrels with Brussels and its brutal treatment of refugees and migrants from the Middle East through Belarus. In particular, it provides an allowance for those who welcome refugees at the rate of 40 jaloti (9 €) per day and per person.
The assistance, which was meant to enable refugees to find jobs, will end on June 30. “We don’t lack the will to work”Ira, a refugee salesman who came from western Ukraine with her 8-year-old son, explained “But the language barrier is a difficult barrier.” “Now, even in restaurants, we are asked to speak Polish. A
“Go home and fight.”
The problem of communication also emphasizes the relationship with the poles who welcome them. Anita, a psychologist in Warsaw, mother of two young boys, opened her three-bedroom apartment for two middle-class Ukrainian women, a 50-year-old woman and her 19-year-old daughter, a law student. But the currents never crossed. Refugees do not want to share food or take part in cleaning with their hosts and keep themselves separate in their homes.
Such problems are slight. It cannot be ruled out, however, that anti-Ukrainian sentiment, already perceived in extreme right-wing circles, will be even stronger. On the Facebook page of Euromaidan Warszawa, a foundation working to bring Ukraine and the EU closer together, a video of a “thank you Poland” concert given by Ukrainians made vicious remarks. “Instead of playing the guitar in Poland and abusing Poole’s rudeness, go home and fight.”
“These responses are irrelevant, Explain Exceed Natalia Panchenko, leader of Euromaidan. They do not reflect the attitude of Polish society. Our pages are constantly being attacked by Russian trolls. A
The great momentum of solidarity is coming to an end
But, he observes it, drawing on his experience of welcoming refugees six years ago “The first stage, the great outflow of solidarity from the pole”The end is silence, indifference, feeling “We’ve done enough, we want to forget the war now and the refugees are preventing us from doing that.” Later he thinks, “Like 2014, the end will come, of hatred.”
“Poles don’t understand that refugees are badly marked by scenes of war, murder and rape, which they have seen up close, and at first they don’t show it, don’t talk about it.”, Explained the young woman. This strong stress reappears after a few months and affects the relationship with their hosts.