Poland’s government wants Ukrainian refugees to begin paying for some of their government-provided housing and food by early next year, the Polish Prime Minister’s office said Tuesday, and the Council of Ministers adopted draft legislation to that end, which is expected to pass easily in Parliament.
Poland has borne the brunt of Europe’s biggest exodus since World War II, as millions of Ukrainians fleeing the war have crossed into the country since February.
Most have since moved on to other countries or returned home, but, as of earlier this month, nearly 1.5 million citizens of Ukraine were registered as refugees in Poland.
By year’s end, Poland will have spent more on housing, health and other services for Ukrainians than any European country, according to a recent study by the Polish Economic Institute. But as the country, like much of Europe, copes with inflation and high gas prices, there are signs that fatigue may be setting in with some slice of the Polish electorate.
The new measures, which are expected to come into effect on March 1, 2023, will apply to Ukrainian refugees who have stayed in the country for more than four months.
The resolution proposes that Ukrainian citizens staying in “collective accommodation centers,” which are government-funded lodgings, be charged for 50 percent of their housing costs, up to $8.83 each day per person, if they stay in Poland for longer than 120 days.
Refugees who stay over 180 days will be charged for 75 percent of their housing costs, up to $13.25 each day per person.
People who cannot work because of a disability, their age, pregnancy or the need to take care of children will be exempt from making these payments, the prime minister’s office said.