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Poland should do more to address migration crisis

A draft regulation on the resettlement of foreigners provides that in 2016 Poland will accept not more than 400 refugees from Greece and Italy. The HFHR has prepared comments to the regulation; the organisation underscores that re-settlement of such number of foreigners is a gesture of marginal importance in the solving of the migration crisis that is affecting Europe.

By September 2017, a total of 6182 refugees is expected to be re-settled in Poland. In the opinion of the HFHR, it is highly doubtful if this obligation may at all be discharged, given the number of refugees coming to Poland this year. This concern is even more valid in the light of a statement of the Minister of the Interior Mariusz Błaszczak, who said that Poland opposed the re-settlement mechanism as such.

The government officials say that the arrival of the first 400 persons should be treated as a pilot measure, the purpose of which is to gain experience that may be used in the determination of the rules governing the acceptance of the remaining refugees. However, the draft regulation does not list any additional integration initiatives that would be designed for the re-settled group and complement the solutions used so far.

Both the experiences of non-governmental organisations and conclusions of a recent Supreme Audit Office’s review of the social assistance system for refugees reveal that the measures currently in use are insufficient for ensuring full integration of refugees with the society. They provide refugees with no incentive to take on independent lives in Poland and discourage refugees from staying in the country. In order to persuade refugees to stay, authorities need to create an effective system that wold involve, for instance, a more robust Polish learning scheme, professional activation and better access to housing. If the current solutions are relied on, refugees will not integrate.

On the other hand, Polish authorities declare that guaranteeing safety for Polish citizens is the top priority of the policy for foreigners re-settlement and relocation. The Government plans, among other things, to create an Interdepartmental Team for Safety in the Process of Foreigners Re-settlement and Relocation, which is to replace the existing Interdepartmental Team for Re-settlement and Relocation of Refugees. As the new team’s name suggests, a focus is to be put on security issues. The need to ensure safety of the public is clearly one of merit, but the HFHR contends that the priority given to this matter in the current migration policy is disproportionately higher than attention devoted to the acceptance and integration of refugees.

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