The Rafto Foundation pleads to the European Commission for urgent support to civil society and local governments, and warns against allowing the Central Government in Poland to channel or otherwise influence the distribution and management of such support.
Bergen, 18 March 2022
Polish civil society is currently overwhelmed by a massive influx of refugees from Ukraine. The entire effort to protect the refugees, a gigantic challenge involving the provision of shelter, food, clothing, childcare, health care, psychological support, legal aid, and other essential services, is organized by NGOs and thousands of citizens opening their homes and sharing what they have.
There is hardly any organized effort from the Polish government to handle this crisis, which in numbers is much larger than the crisis handled by Germany in 2015, and the available resources in Polish society only a small fraction of those available in Germany. Assistance from EU and EEA neighbors is vital and critically urgent, to avoid a fast developing humanitarian disaster, a collapse of the Polish civil society effort, and numerous dangerous side effects reaching beyond the refugee situation.
However, this assistance must not be provided for management by the central government in Poland, 41 Polish civil society organizations warns. We share their concerns.
We urge EU and EEA authorities to ensure that emergency funding is provided directly to the relevant municipalities as the main coordinating actors, or through international organizations working with the local NGOs providing the services.