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Poland says it may cut aid for Ukrainian refugees next year

by Martin Fornusek September 19, 2023 4:55 PM 3 min read
Ukrainian citizens fleeing the Russian aggression are pictured at the Shehyni-Medyka checkpoint on the Ukraine-Poland border, Lviv Oblast, on March 6, 2022. (Photo credit: Alona Nikolaievych/Ukrinform/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Poland will likely not extend the support for the roughly 1 million Ukrainian refugees it is hosting to the same extent for the following year, Polish government spokesperson Piotr Müller told Polsat News on Sept. 18.

Poland has hosted the largest number of Ukrainian refugees of all countries. The U.N. records around 6 million refugees residing abroad as a result of Russian aggression.

In a show of solidarity with besieged Ukraine, Warsaw decided to assist Ukrainian refugees by waiving residency requirements and providing free access to education, healthcare, and family benefits.

Now, the Polish government signals this aid may not be prolonged for 2024, at the very least not at the same scale.

"These regulations will simply expire next year," Müller said on television.

"I think the regulations will not be extended to a large extent," he noted, adding that the international community should become more involved in the support.

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According to data collected by Statista, Poland allocated around $16.5 billion to support refugees in the period from March 2022 to June 2023, outspending all other European countries hosting Ukrainians fleeing from the war.

Poland has been one of Ukraine's most fervent supporters since the start of the full-scale war, providing not only humanitarian aid but also military and diplomatic support.

The relationship has grown strained recently, marred by diplomatic spats and disagreements over Ukrainian grain imports as the governing Law and Justice party likely seeks to win over farmers' votes ahead of the October parliamentary elections.

Poland extended the ban on domestic sales of Ukrainian agricultural products despite the EU's decision not to prolong the measure past Sept. 15.

The ban was imposed by the European Commission in May at the request of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania, who feared that Ukrainian imports may threaten their domestic agricultural production.

In turn, Kyiv said it will sue Poland, as well as Hungary and Slovakia who also decided to prolong the ban, over their refusal to lift the restrictions. Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that the Ukrainian government may impose its own import bans on select goods from the three countries.

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Kyiv may be gearing up for a legal battle with three of its neighbors as it now fights to free its grain on its western borders. In defiance of the European Commission’s Sept. 15 decision to lift an embargo on the domestic sale of Ukrainian agricultural products in five

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