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Polish NGOs' support to Ukraine. Fact and figures

ot. PAP/DPA/Christoph Reichwein
ot. PAP/DPA/Christoph Reichwein

The Association of Polish Non-Governmental Initiatives Confederacy prepared a report with information on the participation of Polish NGOs in projects and initiatives aimed at supporting Ukrainians since the beginning of Russia's full-scale, brutal invasion. The report was presented on 7 December 2023 in Kiev. The report shows figures and facts regarding Polish NGOs' support for Ukraine.

For over 30 years, Poland has been an advocate for Ukraine’s participation in the Western political system through the country’s integration with European institutions, such as the EU and NATO. Since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland has been and continues to be Ukraine’s partner.
As many as 968,617 Ukrainians have PESEL numbers

Almost 24 million people were registered at the Polish-Ukrainian border between 24 February 2022 and 30 June 2023. Nearly 1.5 million people, of whom around 90 percent are women and children, live in Poland. As many as 968,617 Ukrainians with special status "UKR" have active PESEL numbers (the national identification number). Around 180,000 children from Ukraine attend Polish educational institutions.

“In the case of children under the age of 18, more than 2.3 million children arrived in Poland, whereas just below 1.8 million left the country. Thus, the migration balance in this regard is positive by half a million individuals. As for adults, categorized by gender, over 3.6 million men and 6.75 million women came to Poland. In the opposite direction, approximately 3.5 million men and just under 6 million women left. The overall balance in terms of border movement was positive, totalling around 1.47 million people, with approximately 90% being women and children,” the report read.

Already in the first days of the war, Polish legislators noticed that it was necessary to adapt the law to accommodate refugees on an unprecedented scale in Poland. On 12 March 2022, the ‘Act on assistance to citizens of Ukraine in connection with the armed conflict on the territory of that state’ was adopted. The new law resolved a number of pressing issues in terms of assistance to Ukrainians, in particular:

•    assignment of a PESEL number;
•    the right to work without a permit;
•    monetary and non-monetary assistance;
•    the right to use educational institutions;
•    exemption from payment of fees for educational services for part-time studies or foreign language studies;
•    the right to health care, etc.

Legal assistance to Ukrainians in Poland was provided by a number of human rights NGOs. Assistance was also offered by scouting or sports organisations by organising training for young players from Poland’s eastern neighbour. Many activities were also undertaken by church, businesses or self-help organisations (such as the Voluntary Fire Brigades or Rural Housewives Clubs).

The full-scale war in Ukraine has led to an unprecedented unification of Polish civil society around this tragedy. It also led to NGOs’ effective cooperation with local governments and other parties to provide coordinated solutions on issues of cargo and passenger logistics, health care and psychological assistance, together with relevant partners in Ukraine.

According to data collected by the Statistics Poland (central statistical office, GUS) by the end of March 2022 alone, 28.8 thousand (29.6 percent) social economy entities were involved in providing assistance in connection with the warfare on Ukrainian territory. They provided in-kind support to the needy with an estimated value of PLN 511 million and financial support of PLN 140 million. Over 29 percent of the total number of NGOs (just under 29,000 entities) were taking part in these activities. 

“On average, one non-profit organization providing assistance to individuals had 447 beneficiaries, with in half of the cases, not exceeding 21 people. Organizations exclusively providing aid within Poland indicated 5.2 million recipients, those operating in both countries—2.6 million beneficiaries, and exclusively in Ukraine—0.1 million recipients,” wrote the authors of the report.

The report focused not only on the in-king support but also on psychological assistance: “As the research indicates, 73% of the surveyed war refugees from Ukraine have experienced war related trauma. The above has led to the need for psychological support for war refugees from Ukraine to adapt to their new reality and cope with the trauma, which was triggered by the necessity of suddenly leaving their homeland. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in five individuals who have suffered as a result of armed conflicts experience mental health disorders. It is estimated that more than 15 million people in Ukraine require psychosocial support to adapt to their new reality,” the report read. 
Ukrainian nationals and the labour market

Authors of the report also analysed data showing the scale of employment and entrepreneurship of Ukrainian citizens living in Poland.

“Based on information provided by the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) as of June 2023, the number of insured individuals with citizenship other than Polish was 1,094,148. The number of insured individuals with Ukrainian citizenship was 748,407, of which more than 390,000 were men and just under 360,000 were women. It's important to highlight that this data excludes individuals engaged in informal sector employment and those not covered by social insurance, such as those exclusively working under specific task contracts. The number of businesses established by Ukrainians in 2022, according to the Polish Economic Institute, was approximately 16,000. By mid-2023, an additional 14,000 had been set up. Around 30,000 Ukrainian sole proprietorships were registered in the CEIDG database (Code list of classification of business activities in Poland), by the end of June 2023,” wrote the authors of the report.

The report was published in Polish, English and Ukrainian. All language versions are available at: https://polishngohelp.com