Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been going on for a year. Ukraine has defended its independence, but part of its territory is under Russian occupation.
The full-scale hostilities of the Russians began on February 24, 2022 just before 5.00 (4.00 in Poland), a few minutes after Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” aimed at “demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”
In this article we would like to focus on the current situation of Ukrainians, because even before the war started the local population began to look towards Poland in search of better wages and living standards.
What has changed this year? How many Ukrainians are currently in Poland and what is their situation? How did all this affect Polish-Ukrainian relations? We will try to highlight the current situation of the Ukrainian population in Poland in the following article.
Since February 24, 2022, the migration situation in Poland has been dominated by an increased influx of Ukrainian citizens. They are by far the largest group of foreigners in Poland, accounting for slightly more than 80 % of the total number of foreigners settling in the country.
According to the data of the Border Guard, from the beginning of the war to February 12, 2023, 9.797 million refugees from Ukraine crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border. 75% of them were adults, 97% of the total were women, and only 3% were men. Currently, more people come to Poland than leave it.
One year after the Russian aggression against Ukraine, almost 1 million Ukrainian citizens, mainly women and children, benefit from temporary protection in Poland. In total, 1.4 million people have valid residence permits in the country.
Among the countries not bordering Ukraine, Germany (over 880,000) and the Czech Republic (490,000) received the largest number of refugees. Most of the refugees are women, children and the elderly.
Situation in cities:
Ukrainians in Poland mostly stay in one of the 12 largest Polish cities.
The largest number of Ukrainians was recorded in Rzeszów – in May 2022, Ukrainians accounted for 37 percent. Rzeszów!
58% of Ukrainians declare that they rent an apartment on their own, and 22% are provided by their employer. The majority, 52%, live in apartments, and about 18% in dormitories or hostels. About 10% enjoy hospitality in Polish homes. Thus, most Ukrainians solve housing issues at their own expense.
7% of Poles provided their own flats, in which a total of several hundred thousand families found shelter.
Poland is still a leader among all European countries when it comes to helping refugees. Since the beginning of the war, Poles have been supporting their neighbors fleeing the conflict from the bottom up. Much of the aid is bottom-up. Numerous aid collections are organized, Polish families invite refugees to their homes. The scale of Polish aid already in November 2022 exceeded 1% of GDP, i.e. PLN 25 billion. The greatest involvement, i.e. those from the beginning of the war, involved 70% of adult Poles.
Never before have so many Poles agreed on one thing. Already at the beginning of the conflict, 77% of citizens supported Ukraine. This is a higher percentage than in the case of support for joining the European Union, and fewer people go to the elections. Statistically, 8 out of 10 Poles, even with the smallest gesture, supported our eastern neighbors.
Such a high level of agreement results, among other things, from the sense of the obvious injustice of Russia’s act of aggression. The historical similarity of the situation in which Poland once found itself in relation to the invader is also significant.
Contrary to appearances, Ukrainians are increasingly choosing professions that require contact with the client. This is due, among others, to like our languages. The IT sector and the beauty industry are of particular interest. So these are not just typical physical jobs like stacking goods or cleaning. The language barrier appears as a significant problem in the case of managerial staff and professions with narrow specialization and high qualifications.
It pays off for employers:
A Ukrainian is still a valuable employee for a Polish entrepreneur, and an attractive consumer for the Polish economy
Employers compete with each other for Ukrainians, thus providing them with the best conditions. Even in the case of hostels and dormitories, most places of residence present an adequate level.
Poland as an attractive destination
More than half of Ukrainians living in Poland believe that their standard of living has improved after moving. “Poland is the west for us” is defined by Ukrainians who see a qualitative leap in their lives in relation to work and living in their homeland.
Currently, the minimum wage in Poland is PLN 3,010 gross, and in Ukraine it is the equivalent of approx. PLN 846. For years, Poland has been attractive to Ukrainians from the perspective of earnings.
Poland, due to the fact that it is in the European Union, is associated with good roads, infrastructure, access to goods and general prosperity.
Over 30% of respondents declare that they earn higher incomes when working in Poland than in Ukraine. 16% decided to come because they wanted to help their own family.
Training, internships, employment vouchers and other forms of activation prepared by public employment services are things that can be used by citizens of Ukraine. Further packages of solutions to the issue of employment of Ukrainians are also announced.
Revenues to the state:
It is estimated that around 65% of refugees work. The impact from contributions and taxes on the salaries of refugees can be estimated at PLN 4 billion in 2022 and PLN 6 billion in the future in 2023. There are about 770,000 people reported to the labor office. refugees from Ukraine.
Ukraine as a strategic partner and long-term relationship, common future of Ukraine and Poland
“Poland. A bridge to freedom” is this year’s slogan of the Polish House during the Davos World Economic Forum. One of the discussions raised there was titled: “Reconstruction of Ukraine. A map of the needs of the Ukrainian business sector”.
According to the data of the Polish Investment and Trade Agency, readiness to rebuild Ukraine was reported by over 1.2 thousand. Polish entrepreneurs.
There are bright prospects for Ukrainian-Polish relations. The whole world is turned towards the events in Ukraine, and Poland, as a direct neighbor and an indirect participant in the events, is becoming a disinterested and generous partner of Ukraine in the eyes of the world. In the Western media one hears about the scale and variety of aid provided by Poland.