The open doors in the Centre for Foreigners in Linin – May 13, 2017
May 13, 2017 – The open doors in the Centre for Foreigners in Linin has gone down in history. It was a sunny evening in a very multicultural atmosphere J There were cotton candy, clown, capoeira show, bouncy castles, delicious food from all around the world and much more.
The event was organized as a part of Refugee.pl 5 project and has been funded with the Asylum, Migration and Integration fund and the government budget.
We would like to thank the Refugee.pl staff, Zimba Warszawa, the volunteers from American School of Warsaw in Konstancin-Jeziorna and everyone else who supported us during the event.
Kindergarten and day care centre in the Centres for Foreigners in Linin and Debak
Kindergartens and day care centres in the Centres for Foreigners in Linin and Debak are space for young refugees to spend time in a creative and friendly atmosphere. We teach our kindergarteners how to play, paint and draw – we prepare them for school and develop different skills. We listen together to Polish songs and try to understand the world around us. We help older students with their homework. Pupils can learn with us how to develop their creativity by playing games and colouring. By working in teams we teach children how to respect one another and how to express their needs and opinions. We simply have a lot of fun!
Our kindergarten and day centre team consists of: Nela and Kasia (Debak); Kasia and Uliana (Linin).
United Kingdom and the migration crisis in Europe
October 18, 2015
Great Britain has been under pressure from the European Union to take in far more refugees to help with the wider migrant crisis, which has seen hundreds of thousand of people arrive in mainland Europe recently. The majority of those being Syrians fleeing civil war there are however some who flee violence and poverty in Afghanistan, Eritrea or Kosovo.
The debate in the UK centers upon the migrant admission numbers and selection criteria, not upon whether they should be taken in or not. Meetings taking place in Brussels in recent weeks aimed at reaching consensus in relocation of 160 000 refugees already in Europe between the member states. On the grounds of the EU law however, the UK, Ireland and Denmark have the right to refuse the participation in talks related to migration, asylum, visa policy or border control.
Exercising this right the UK has ruled out participating in any EU quota system to resettle refugees already in Europe. David Cameron has explained his government’s decision responding to the EU criticism by quoting the sums that have already been invested by the British in the humanitarian aid to the Syrians in UN refugee camps located in Middle East. From the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011 Britain has spent £900m to help vulnerable people in Syria and refugees in the region. Prime Minister has announced a further £100m to support camps in Lebanon and Jordan, making the sum of the financial support reach £1 billion.
Furthermore the UK Government pledged to take in up to 20,000 refugees relocated from camps in Syria and neighbouring countries over the next 5 years. The decision means expanding the Syrian Vulnerable Persons scheme operating since January 2014, under which 216 persons have been relocated to the UK so far.
Theresa May, the home secretary, reiterates that Great Britain is doing all it can to support those who need it most. Hidden behind this statement is a policy basing on the assumption that refugees already in Europe are no longer vulnerable and priority should be given to those remaining in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Thus among the 20,000 who David Cameron has promised to take in there will only be Syrians who have not yet decided to flee to Europe.
According to the UK Prime Minister the resettlement of those who are in refugee camps can discourage others from taking up their perilous journeys to Europe. The opposition MPs, on the other hand, think that the UK should and could do much more. Yvette Cooper, a former shadow home secretary, says that the declaration to accept 20,000 people over the 5 years period equals helping only 4,000 refugees a year, which is a number completely inadequate to the needs in the present situation. Notably so, the resettlement of refugees from Lebanon will not help appease the situation in Europe. Nobody is able to predict what the circumstances will be in a few years time, either.
On the other hand a Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said distinguishing between refugees in Europe and those in UN camps was “false” and “offensive”. In his opinion the British contribution to helping people who are in need should be based on the need, not a decision they might have made in sheer desperation.
While David Cameron is visiting camps in Jordan and Lebanon calling on other EU countries to follow Britain’s lead by funding refugee camps in countries neighbouring Syria instead of hosting refugees in Europe, British society is signing a petition demanding that the UK accept more asylum seekers. The petition has been signed by more than 400,000 people which is four times more than the number of signatures demanded to open the parliamentary debate over the issue.
Moreover, the active and dynamic civil society of Britain is voicing its readiness to offer support; in Internet forums and social media thousands of Britons have offered their homes to host refugees.
In spite of many signs of goodwill that have been shown it has to be pointed out that 400,000 signatures and dozens of thousands of people willing to host refugees in their homes is merely a drop in the ocean in the over 60m population of Great Britain. The majority of population is relatively restrained from manifesting support to accepting larger numbers of refugees. It is related to the anti-immigration policy of the Conservatives who are deliberately conflating two separate categories “refugee” and “immigrant” using the long-standing tendency in the society to voice negative opinions on the number of immigrants who arrived in Britain from eastern Europe after 2004. The government’s target is to reduce net migration to the tens of thousands and the number includes refugees.
Compilation: Katarzyna Musur
Meeting of the Expert Committee on Migrants attached to the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights
September 29, 2015 | Category: Information
On September 22 we have attended a meeting of the Expert Committee on Migrants summonned by the Commissioner for Human Rights as a matter of urgency. At the very beginning the Human Rights Defender has turned to the Committee to support his Office’s actions with regard to the present situation of the migration rush and the attitude of the society towards refugees.
A number of claims have been made, the Human Rights Defender has planned his immedeiate actions and speeches.
From Theory to Practice – the Best Practices For Assisting Refugees. A Debate.
The migration crisis fuelled by the civil war in Syria has made Europe and Poland meet a serious challenge. Images of misery and death of thousands of refugees transmitted by the media evoke sympathy and solidarity in some of us, anxiety and fear in others, while sympathy and fear at the same time in a few.
A discussion takes place on Wednesday, September 30, 6 p.m. We will debate on how to assist refugees best . How to solve accumulating problems and escalating conflicts?
Agnieszka Kunicka, President of Refugee.pl
Maciej Duszczyk, Expert on migration issues in the Institute of Social Policy and Centre of Migration Research of the University of Warsaw
Patrycja Sasnal, Head of the Middle East and North Africa Project in the Polish Institute of International Affairs
Dariusz Stola, Director of POLIN, Museum of the History of Polish Jews, historian, fellow at the Centre of Migration Research of the University of Warsaw and the Research Committee on Human Migration of the Polish Academy of Sciences
Moderator: Anna Wacławik-Orpik, Radio Tok FM.
Co-organised by the Club of Catholic Intellectuals (KIK).
Ask what they will do
September 28, 2015 | Category: Information
Mayors of several European cities and towns have recently declared they are ready to offer aid and take in refugees. Among them was the mayor of Slupsk, a middle sized city in northern Poland, Robert Biedroń and mayor of Wadowice, a town in southern Poland famous for being a place where Pope John Paul II was born. Even before that a village-mayor of Gniewino, a little village of 2,000 inhabitants in northern Poland, has pledged to take in a number of refugees. We believe there will be more municipalities and cities like that in Poland. Help us find them!
Write a letter to the mayor of your village, town or city . Ask if your municipality is ready to take in refugees and what can it offer.
That’s how you can do it:
1. Find an e-mail address, fax number or postal address of the mayor or village-mayor. All the information should be available in their respective websites. If the complete or correct information is not available make a phonecall and ask for it.
2. Prepare an e-mail, letter or fax (a pattern to be found below). Remember to fill in (cross out) the correct title. Give your telephone number, e-mail or postal address.
3. Post the mail via the Internet, fax or traditional post.
4. Let us know where you have sent your letters.
5. If you receive a reply send it to us to firstname.lastname@example.org or place it here.
6. Any questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.
Relocation and resettlement
September 27, 2015 | Category: Information
Who will come to Poland? Where would they come from? What is the difference between relocation and resettlement? Our graphics will answer your questions … More information under Resources
Migrants are people who leave their country for another state out of their free will, for example to work or study. A migrant decides by him-/ herself when they want to return to their home country, as there is no danger for them to return.
According to the Polish Office for Foreigners (UdSC) there have been 190,000 foreign nationals holding residence permit in Poland at the beginning of July 2015.
by Dawid Warszawski
People in Poland refuse offering help to migrants first of all out of fear not meanness. Fear of the prospect that the newcomers, at least a part of them, will stay in our country for good. This is the reason for obsessive diversifying their attitude towards refugees fleeing from war and economic migrants hoping for a better life. The former are supposed to be here just for some time, until circumstances back in their countries improve, the latter are coming here to stay. Hence the false reasoning that the majority of refugees are in fact plain migrants, the proof of that being the over-representation of young men among them – as if crossing the Mediterranean on inflatable boats was something that women, children and the elderly did on everyday basis.
As in the case of many fears in society, also this one is partly irrational. Similar fears were present in the USA one hundred years ago in relation to the increasing immigration of Poles and Eastern European Jews whose civilisation standards, culture and religion were very different and their political views often extreme. They were then deemed unable to assimilate. However, the fear has a rational ground, too. It was a Polish anarchist Leon Czolgosz who assassinated president McKinley. The political activity of the Jews has undermined the hitherto domination of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The waves of immigraiton have profoundly changed America.
And that’s exactly what the Poles are afraid of – that the refugees will stay and transform Poland. The actual numbers of the candidates to stay here, the laughable several thousand people, negligible toward the scale of the problem, have nothing to do with the reality: it is though just the beginning of an invasion. In Europe, a continent of entirely settled nations, unlike in immigrant America, integrating newcomers is noticeably less successfull. Although the majority of immigrants, be it refugees or those seeking a better life, assimilate quite well, yet there are some, making themselves clearly seen, that do not. Statistics that indicate immigrants are responsible for less criminal offences than local inhabitants and are contributing to the budget more than drawing on it will not veil the image of islamic terrorists and neighbourhoods ruled by the Sharia law. Even explaining that some Muslims resort to violence and intolerance while others try to fight against it or fall victim to it will give nothing when it is much easier to recall a slogan – no Muslims, no problems.
The slogan is catchy as it is somewhat true. Even if there is no terrorism and fundamentalism, arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants transforms the receiving country. It would never be the way it was. There would be new faces and outfits in the streets, new scents in the restaurants, new languages heard and sign boards seen. While people prefer everything to be the way it has always been. People the world over – the reaction of the inhabitants of Arabic cities would be no different if suddenly hundreds of thousands of Europeans moved in there, wearing shorts, speaking their languages, opening churches and restaurants where you might order pork. Just like everybody else I also got used to Europe as it is, I wouldn’t like to change it a bit. I am also convinced that if someone had proposed a credible model of migration that does not transform the receiving country, most of the fears would be diminished.
Obviously such a model does not exist. Migrants want to live their lives in their own way and they have the right to do it. A principle that a visitor should obey the rules of the house applies to the law but not to the cuisine or dress. Besides, immigration is not like paying your friends a visit. Immigrants become citizens, in the next generation at the latest, and co-author the rules.
Precisely this prospect makes the Poles feel hostility the mechanism of which I understand. But hostility is counterproductive and unwise. Not to mention it is immoral, as all those who encourage it know only too well: thus all the preposterous attempts to dehumanise refugees, to show them not as neighbours and fellow creatures but enemies who can be rejected outright. Even authority of the Pope will not help in this matter.
Hostility is counterproductive because it is ineffective. The refugees will go on arriving, though they know they are unwanted and rejected. They ran away from the bombs, got across the sea at risk of their lives, marched through the mountains and borders not to give up now, facing just a common unfriendliness. Even the sinister attacks on refugee centres will not deter them from coming – it’s all bearable compared to the violence that drove them away from home. Hostility will not then achieve its aim. Instead, it will incite what it is supposed to be the reaction for – a mutual enmity. Instead of being grateful for being offered a shelter refugees will return our hostility and violence. Why should they respect our comforts if we are not able to respect their dignity?
Hostility is also unwise as you have to pay more for it than for dropping it. Hostility will bring the rule of those who, implementing their mandate, would do anything to stop the wave of immigration. Anything – including violence. In Hungary the army is already carrying out military exercises in border protection. It’s just a matter of time when the first refugee dies at the hands of uniformed protectors of Europe and not human traffickers or as a result of a misfortune. Someone who believes that a government pursuing such a policy will limit the violence only to “aliens”, refugees, leaving “their folks” untouched did not understand a bit of the 20th century history of Europe. You will need to pay with freedom for the protection of comfort. For sure there will be Europeans ready to support it enthusiastically.
Whereas appeals for European solidarity fall on deaf ears in Poland. It is a common belief that taking in refugees should be a commitment of states which helped inflict problems that refugees are running away from. Either colonialism or Persian Gulf War are evoked here. Assuming this logic, Poland should at least aid Ukrainians and in the future also Belorussians whose countries were once partially the components of the much larger and moved to the east Poland, while the Polish involvement in the Gulf War is also forgotten. On the other hand constant reminding that Poles have benefitted from the solidarity of others has the opposite effect: opponents of helping refugees claim that mass emigration of the Poles is a proof that Poland has endured so much through its history that it must be exempted now from aiding others, it is Poland that still needs to be given aid and compensation for damages suffered in the past. Thus the astounding tone of the moral indignation which the Polish political elite uses when being confronted with the expectation that we would show solidarity.
Then again there lurks a deep-seated though only half-conscious conviction in Poles that the fact of being nowadays the most ethnically homogeneous society in Europe (once those of Ireland and Iceland were ahead of us but that was before Polish immigration to those countries) is a historical prize for years of suffering. We believe we deserve that homogeneity. And that’s the same argument the comunists always put forward, as if they had not remembered what it meant for Poland to achieve such a level of ethnic homogeneity (which was a dream of the far-right nationalist movement in Poland prior to the World War II). “The (Communist) Party is an heir to the far-right” said a Polish Nobel prize winner, a poet Czesław Miłosz astutely. Today the extreme right, ONR, is again an heir to the Party. A vicious circle.
Only the wave of migration cannot be stopped. As no matter how hard we try, we won’t be able to convince the refugees that it is much worse here than where they are running away from. I would very much like to believe that.
Why the majority of refugees are men?
ñ The vast majority of asylum seekers in the European Union are men. Globally there is no disparity.
ñ Families affected by war and poverty hope that young men would survive the trip to Europe and then are able to have the rest of their families follow or would help them at a distance.
ñ People flee the war-torn Syria heading for refugee camps in neigbouring countries. Many men set off from there.
According to the UNCHR, women and girls comprise about half of any refugee population. In Europe the number of female asylum seekers is much lower. In 2014, 70% of people claiming asylum in European Union were men. Eurostat agency reports that the greatest imbalance with regard to gender applies to the age group 14-34, which makes 54% of asylum seekers; in that group three out of every four persons are men. The proportion is balanced only among children.
Reasons why more men than women are reaching Europe are varied. They are not, however, what the right wing politicians and their supporters are trying to portray. Smaller numbers of women seeking refuge is taken to be a proof that the asylum seekers’ problems are not serious at all and that it is much rather a migration to seek to improve their economical status than asylum.
“The decision on migration depends on the individual situation. Many families suffering from armed conflicts simply do not have the money to pay for the journey to Europe for more than one family member.”- says Bernd Mesovic from Pro Asyl, a German refugee assisting agency. There are several reasons why it is young men rather than women, elderly or children who are being sent to embark on the journey. Young men are usually physically stronger and – depending on the country of origin – better educated than women. That increases their chances to survive the risky trip and reach their destination. The decision is also influenced by traditional understanding of a man’s role in the society as a main family provider and the one responsible for taking care of his wife and children. Additionally, it is mostly women who take care of the children and fleeing with children makes the journey more troublesome and dangerous. Putting aside the risks of a long journey the women are also afraid of being raped or kidnapped (especially on the route via Sinai peninsula). In the warzone, where they are escaping from, there is also greater likelihood that a man would be killed – either as an opponent or as a soldier compulsorily conscripted by the government’s forces.
In such situation it is not at all strange that – irrespective of the individual cause for every flight – it is more often men that decide to take the risky trip to Europe. The families stay behind and wait until the men have made the trip, applied for asylum and then are able to have the rest of their families follow in a much safer way or support them at a distance.
First to the neighbouring country, then to Europe.
Women in the war-torn areas are naturally exposed to the same danger as men. Just the same they can die due to a bomb explosion or fight between different groups of rebels, extremists or soldiers. Due to that a vast number of families seek safety in neighbouring countries, where they live in refugee camps. Out of the abovementioned reasons however, it is mostly young men that continue the journey to Europe, because their chances to reach it are biggest, according to their own families.
Syrian asylum seekers have recently staged a demonstration in front of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in Dortmund, trying to speed up their applications being examined, so that they could bring in their wives and children to Germany. The global conflict situation has in the meantime exacerbated and people have become so despaired that more and more children are sent to make the dangerous trip to the West alone, without any company or protection.
Translated from German by Anita
Translated from the article: Markus C. Schulte von Drach, Warum vor allem Männer Asyl suchen, Süddeutsche Zeitung, updated on 27.07.2015, [website updated on September 8, 2015].