Overwhelmingly, the Polish response to the 24 February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has been based on the moral imperative of ‘It is the right thing to do’. Within three months, Poland was hosting 3.3 million Ukrainian refugees. This is equivalent to 8.7% of Poland’s population of 38 million. The numbers are difficult to grasp. I have identified four specificities in the Polish response. Firstly, a collective intergenerational trauma and fear that Russia may not stop at Ukraine. Secondly, the attitude of the Polish state towards refugees is generally restrictive and hostile with the exception of Ukrainians. Thirdly, there were pre-existing Polish-Ukrainian relationships upon which Polish society’s response has been layered upon. Lastly, there has been sustained collective and grassroots response for over nine months. For how much longer can the humanitarian response be driven by local authorities, local organisations and civil society ‘to do the right thing’?
Ruszczyk, H., Kallio, K. P., & Riding, J. (2022). 'It’s the right thing to do': specificities of the Polish response to the Ukrainian crisis. Fennia, 200(1), 1-5. https://doi.org/10.11143/fennia.125368