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UPDATED: Poland extends protection for third-country refugees who fled Ukraine after war

by Martin Fornusek January 18, 2024 8:31 PM 2 min read
Refugees through Przemysl train station after fleeing from war-torn Ukraine on April 3, 2022, in Medyka, Poland. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
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Editor's note: This article was updated after the Ukrainian embassy in Poland clarified that the extension concerned only third-country residents of Ukraine, not Ukrainian citizens granted protection under a special law.

The Polish government announced on Jan. 18 an extension of temporary protection for third-country residents of Ukraine who fled the war until March 2025.

Poland hosts around 1 million Ukrainians who fled from Russia's war, the highest number of all countries. The U.N. records approximately 6 million refugees residing abroad as a result of Russian aggression.

The EU initially activated the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainian refugees in March 2022, shortly after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion. The European bloc has extended the measure several times since then, most recently in October 2023.

The extension is provided to third-country citizens who had permanent residency in Ukraine at the start of the full-scale war and fled to Poland.

Foreigners who received a certificate of temporary protection do not have to apply for new ones as their validity is extended, the Polish government's statement read.

According to the Polish newspaper Gazeta Prawna, the Polish government is working on amendments to the special law to extend the stay for Ukrainian refugees as well.

The document is expected to be submitted to the parliament for approval in the coming weeks.

Poland has provided extensive support to Ukrainian refugees coming to its country, which included waiving residency requirements and providing free access to education, healthcare, and family benefits.

The aid for refugees was initially instituted under the previous conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government.

Last September, the PiS government spokesperson hinted that the support may not be extended to the same extent also for the following year. The statement came amid a Polish-Ukrainian row over grain imports. The conservative party has since then been voted out of power and replaced by a coalition of formerly opposition parties.

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