Warsaw, Poland. The EU lately has been giving Poland a very hard time about refusal of thousands of refugees and migrants from middle eastern American wars of resource rape they would like to dump in Poland. But the dirty secret poland does not like to admitt, is they already have an immigration problem; one made in the Ukraine.
Modern Poland is a country of 38 million people and already home to over one million Ukrainians. Most of them decided to emigrate after military conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014, when the currency value of the Ukrainian hryvnia plummeted and prices rose with uncertainty.
Following the populist right Law and Justice party’s rise to power in 2015, the Polish-Ukrainian relationship deteriorated and public opinion polls show a rise in anti-Ukrainian attitudes. Poland, due to its migration policy’s preferences for nationals from the former USSR and its cultural and linguistic similarity, is still an attractive destination for Ukrainians.
According to reports of the Halina Nieć Legal Aid Center, the number of victims of human trafficking in Poland reaches several hundred every year and includes a growing number of Ukrainians. It is difficult to estimate how many cases of modern-day slavery including forced labour trafficking that remain unreported.
The Ukrainian internet is filled with jokes about Polish bureaucracy, and one can see why, a line forms at six am, two hours before the office opens. This is the only way to regulate issues connected with a migrants’ stay in Poland. The Polish administration was not prepared for a sudden rise in the number of immigrants, and the anti-immigrant political climate does not favour implementing revolutionary improvements to ease their burden.
The life of a Ukrainian in Poland has two phases: submitting documents and waiting for the administrative decision. In theory, it can take two months to receive a residency card, but in practice it can even take a year. The person must stay in Poland during this time and is not free to leave.
Ukrainians in Poland under the PiS government has been impacted not only by anti-immigration policies and the “Poland first” approach typical of the populist right, but also by tensions in Polish-Ukrainian relations. In this part of the world, people have a long, vibrant memory about Ukrainian crimes upon Poles. The immigrants in Poland are viewed as “gopnik white trash” at best and “Nazi Pole killers” at worst as no amount of time heals the wounds of wars past.
For most Ukrainians, Poland is a temporary safe haven. A stepping stone to Germany, the United Kingdom or the USA that has made entry easier for large numbers displaced by the Donbass war. There is no love lost between either side as one group wants to leave and the other praying no more follow.