New refugee children in Poland fleeing from Ukraine are more vulnerable and need more support – UNICEF ahead of World Refugee Day

Urgent needs of refugee children who’ve fled war remain, especially those newly arriving – including those displaced by Kakhovka dam attack

19 June 2023
UN0623720
UN0623720/Korta

Warsaw, 19 June 2023 – Refugee children and families who have fled the war in Ukraine continue to need our support, especially those who are arriving in Poland for the first time, UNICEF said ahead of World Refugee Day on 20 June.  

Many newly arriving children and families, including families displaced by the recent Kakhovka dam explosion on 6 June, have more complex needs. They have not had the resources to leave before or are fleeing from areas where active military operations are taking place, or occupied territories, meaning they are especially vulnerable. 

“Many children and their caregivers are now coming from Ukraine to Poland for the first time. This means that for almost a year and a half they have lived in constant fear,” said Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, Country Coordinator for the UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland. “Those newly arriving are often in poorer physical or mental health and many have exhausted their financial resources.” 

In the last three months, almost 200,000 refugees from Ukraine have received support at UNICEF-led Blue Dot Support Hubs at busy transit points in Poland. Of these, 50 per cent were arriving in Poland for the first time.   

UNICEF provides immediate support through Blue Dot Support Hubs established jointly with UNHCR and partners. Set up in critical locations including border crossing points, train and bus stations and accommodation centres, they are safe spaces where Ukrainian and Polish staff provide up-to-date and accurate information about accommodation, travel, and services.   

Almost 530,000 services have been provided to children and families fleeing war in Ukraine at UNICEF-led Blue Dot Support Hubs. This includes mental health and psychosocial support, the use of a child-friendly space, child protection referrals and information on healthcare, education, housing and transport.   

“Our staff at Blue Dots are increasingly seeing more vulnerable refugees arriving in Poland who don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Mustafa Sarwar. "In the last few days a mother Oksana* and her eight-month-old son Oleksander* arrived at our Blue Dot in Medyka after spending two days waiting to be rescued from their flooded home near the Kakhovka dam explosion - and then an arduous journey across Ukraine.”  

“With no end in sight for the war, we must keep supporting these most vulnerable refugees,” added Mustafa Sarwar. “We’ve been able to help refugees thanks to our strong partnerships and collaboration with the national government, municipalities and civil society but more support and funding is needed to keep this vital support going.”  

The UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland was established in record time in March 2022 to support families and help them recover from the war. We work with the national and municipal government as well as civil society partners to keep children learning and families healthy and safe. From Blue Dot Support Hubs at border crossings to Spilno Hubs in communities, from making sure children can go to school to ensuring families can access healthcare and much-needed mental health and psychosocial counseling, we support all families taking refuge and advocate for the rights of every child and adolescent in Poland, with a focus on the most vulnerable. 

There have been more than 12 million border crossings from Ukraine into Poland since the conflict escalated on 24 February 2022. Of the 4 million refugees who have registered for temporary protection across Europe, more than 1.6 million are in Poland – but the true number of refugees could be even higher. Around 90% of refugees in Poland are women and children. 

 

*Names changed to protect identity  

Media contacts

Monika Kacprzak
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland
Tel: (+48) 604 226 866
Hugh Reilly
Chief of Communication
UNICEF Refugee Response Office in Poland
Tel: +48 783 896 843

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit https://www.unicef.org/eca/.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook