5 May 2022

Welcome to Poland? – A tale of two refugee crises

Foreign Affairs Correspondent

The unimaginable number of people who’ve been uprooted from their homes in Ukraine dwarfs any refugee crisis Europe has seen in most of our lifetimes.

But at the end of last year, Poland was struggling to cope with an influx of people heading over the border from Belarus – such was the backlash, that it decided to put up a wall.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, 3 million refugees have crossed into Poland, where they’ve received support from government and volunteer networks.

Meanwhile, more than four-and-a-half thousand attempts have been made to cross illegally from Belarus so far this year.

These people, who are mainly Iraqi Kurds, are met with miles of security fence, and face detention and deportation if they’re caught.

Poland says the most vulnerable are being taken care of even if they’ve crossed illegally. But some, including pregnant and disabled people, claim they’ve been pushed back repeatedly.