The mayors of Poland’s two largest cities have said they are struggling to cope with the huge number of refugees arriving from Ukraine, as UN figures show more than 1.7 million people have crossed into Poland in the weeks since the Russia’s attack began.
Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, said that 300,000 people had arrived in the capital and pledged to continue to support refugees. But, he said on Twitter: “Our city remains the main destination for Ukrainian refugees. [The] situation is getting more and more difficult every day.”
More than 2.8 million people have fled Ukraine since 24 February, when the Russian invasion began. According to UN Human Rights Council data, more than half have travelled to Poland.
Refugees arriving to the Polish capital are mainly being accommodated in private residences, as well as two large sports arenas. Signs are now being posted in central train stations in Warsaw to direct people to other parts of Poland where there is more space to accommodate and provide for them. “Big cities in Poland are already overcrowded,” says one sign, “don’t be afraid to go to smaller towns: they are peaceful, have food, infrastructure and are well adapted.”
“I have this feeling that Warsaw is full and I hear it from many people. The reception points in Warsaw are also overcrowded,” said Marianna Ossolińska, a coordinator at the Club of Catholic Intelligentsia, which is working with refugees in Poland. Ossolińska is managing their hostel, which offers 70 beds and has been full since shortly after it opened on 2 March. “Many refugees try to come to Warsaw, probably because they believe it will be easier to find transport to western Europe from a capital city, or to find a job or make connections,” she said.