Ukraine war created 'fastest displacement crisis since WWII' - IRC

International Rescue Committee calls on states neighboring Ukraine to make full use of EU funding and bodies in order to care for refugees fleeing Russia's war

 Refugees from Ukraine wait to board a bus to Warsaw after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland, fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at border checkpoint in Kroscienko, Poland, March 17, 2022.  (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
Refugees from Ukraine wait to board a bus to Warsaw after crossing the border from Ukraine to Poland, fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at border checkpoint in Kroscienko, Poland, March 17, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)

A 'truly pan-European' response is needed in order to make sure that refugees from Ukraine are supported in an 'equitable and sustainable way across the continent,' the International Rescue Committee said in a statement.

An IRC survey of over 400 refugees in three cities across Poland showed that above all else, what they needed was a job.

“Over two million people have fled to Poland in under a month, making this the fastest displacement crisis we’ve seen since the Second World War," said Heather Macey, IRC's team leader in Poland.

"The government of Poland has acted quickly to both legalize the stay of Ukrainians in Poland and to provide access to social services like healthcare, education and financial assistance," Macey said.

"However, to receive most benefits, registration for a Polish ID number is required. Even with the swift registration systems established by the Polish government, it will be a long process to register the over one million people who are expected to stay on in Poland."

 People fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine rest in a temporary refugee centre in Chisinau (credit: VLADISLAV CULIOMZA / REUTERS) People fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine rest in a temporary refugee centre in Chisinau (credit: VLADISLAV CULIOMZA / REUTERS)

The IRC is a global humanitarian aid, relief and development nongovernmental organization, founded at the call of Albert Einstein in 1933. It provides emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution, or natural disaster.  

The survey also found that the majority of respondents were elderly or mothers who were sole caregivers of their children.

"For refugees, access to the labor market is the means to regain their autonomy and rebuild their lives in dignity and security – which also has a positive impact on their host countries’ prosperity," Macey said. 

“For single mothers, in addition to programs that protect and support them, it is critical that integration responses ensure the provision of childcare and targeted support through benefits for women who would like to work,” she said.

Specific urgent needs included ensuring that services were properly translated into Ukrainian, reception classes for children and language classes and bureaucratic assistance for adults, the Polish team leader said.

Macey called on states neighboring Ukraine to make full use of EU funding and bodies, such as the EU Asylum Agency, in order to provide the best care possible for the refugees.