As part of the Council of Europe, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) prepares reports and recommendations on the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in Europe. In connection with the forthcoming visit to Poland, ECRI asked the SIP for information on the problems with access to education, medical care, social assistance, work and legal protection of employees faced by foreigners, especially those with irregular status living in Poland. You can read the SIP answer here.
We have identified the following problems:
- Lack of sufficient access to education for children placed in detention;
- Insufficient support for children without Polish citizenship studying in Polish schools, highlighted by the massive influx of Ukrainian students to Polish schools after the start of the war in Ukraine;
- The difficulties of people in an irregular situation in accessing public health care;
- Significantly limited access to medical and psychological care in guarded centres for foreigners;
- The frequent detention of foreigners who have experienced violence in their country of origin or on their way to Poland, including foreigners who have experienced violence on the Polish-Belarusian border;
- The humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, including the lack of adequate access to medical care for people trying to cross this border in an unregulated manner;
- Different treatment of persons enjoying temporary protection in Poland: Ukrainian citizens have access to the general health care system, while other foreigners may only use the support provided by the Office for Foreigners;
- Lack of access to social assistance for people who do not have a regulated status in Poland;
- Insufficient amount of cash benefit for persons applying for international protection in Poland;
- Different treatment of persons enjoying temporary protection in Poland: Ukrainian citizens have access to the general social welfare system, while other foreigners may only use the support provided by the Office for Foreigners;
- Work and legal protection of employees
- Inability to regulate the stay and work by people who do not have permits to stay and work in Poland;
- Lack of effective support for victims of exploitation, abuse and discrimination at work;
- Excessive dependence of the employee on the employer: the loss of a job may mean the loss of the right to stay in Poland for a foreigner.
In addition, we indicated that, contrary to ECRI’s recommendations included in the 2015 report on Poland:
- Not only has the migration and integration policy not been implemented, the existing documents in this regard have been repealed in 2017 and the new Polish migration policy has yet to be adopted;
- Integration programs for refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have not been reformed and are still as flawed as in 2015.
In the summary, we indicated the reluctant (and sometimes even hostile) attitude of the Polish authorities towards foreigners living in Poland, lasting since 2015, especially if they seek protection here. Despite this, Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war in their country were generally warmly welcomed in Poland. However, not all refugees from Ukraine can benefit from the same support as Ukrainian citizens. Foreigners who have lived in Ukraine, but do not have Ukrainian citizenship, may benefit from temporary protection in Poland, but on different – in principle worse – rules than citizens of Ukraine. The above-mentioned different treatment of foreigners fleeing Ukraine depending on their country of origin and the humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, lasting since August 2021, clearly shows the discriminatory approach of the Polish authorities: foreigners from neighbouring countries are encouraged to migrate to Poland and supported upon arrival, during when foreigners from further geographically, culturally and religiously countries are treated worse or not admitted to Poland at all, despite clear international obligations in this regard.
Photo by: PxHere