Poland: LWF opens two centers for refugees
Cash-assistance for 56,000 families fleeing war in Ukraine
(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has opened two enrolment centers for refugees in Poland. The centers serve to register refugees from Ukraine for multi-purpose cash-assistance. Gdansk and Wroclaw are the first two of six centers, through which LWF plans to support people fleeing the war in Ukraine. These will be the two largest centers, serving 22,000 families in Gdansk and 15,000 families in Wroclaw.
LWF runs the centers with the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland (ECACP), an LWF member church. The funding comes from the UN refugee agency UNHCR, and various member churches and partners of LWF, including the ACT Alliance, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, Neighbor in Need and Corus/LWR.
A show of humanity
Since the Russian military invasion into Ukraine on 24 February 2022, about five million people have fled the country. Almost three million have found refuge in neighboring Poland, a majority of whom are women, children and elderly.
“I have mixed feelings about today,” said Allan Calma, LWF global humanitarian coordinator, at the opening in Gdansk on 17 May 2022. “I am happy that we can open this center today, but I am also thinking that we should not have an enrolment center in Gdansk. This war is not right, it is not right for women and children to flee their homes, to leave their husbands and fathers, and flee for safety.”
This war has divided a lot of people, but all I could see in the past weeks was people coming together and trying to be human.
Calma thanked the people of Poland, who with great hospitality “opened their arms and homes” to the refugees. He also praised the cooperation with the local member church ECACP. “This war has divided a lot of people,” he said. “But all I could see in the past weeks was people coming together and trying to be human.”
Support local hospitality
"We want to do everything so that those who came to Poland can live with dignity," said Bishop Marcin Hintz, of the Pomeranian-Wielkopolska diocese of the ECACP, in a local media outlet. He also expressed gratitude for the “spontaneous and wonderful” help by many Polish families, which now needed to be supported by institutional structures.
The centers of LWF, ECACP and UNHCR will be located in Gdansk, Wroclaw, Ostróda, Zgierz, Bielsko-Biała and Bytom Miechowice. Altogether they will provide support for 56,000 households or about 168,000 people who fled the war in Ukraine.
LWF is coordinating a response through its member churches in Ukraine and the neighboring countries to ensure support to refugees fleeing Ukraine as well as their safe and dignified arrival. The work is supported by LWF's funding partners, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.