IANPHI Europe Visits Poland to Learn from its Refugee Response

Temporary accommodation, kitchen and dining area, as well as clothes distribution point run by volunteers and charities in Krakow

The conflict in Ukraine has triggered a serious humanitarian crisis that has resulted in one of the largest refugee movements in recent years. A neighboring country to Ukraine, Poland has welcomed more than three million refugees, which left it facing a complex public health emergency.

At the invitation of the Polish national public health institute, Narodowy lnstytut Zdrowia Publicznego, a delegation from the IANPHI European Network visited refugee reception centres and accommodation sites in Krakow and Korczowa, near the Poland-Ukraine border on May 12-13, 2022. The goal of the visit was to learn from the country's experience and challenges in responding to the influx of refugees, and to support Poland's national public health institute.

The refugee crisis has required a large scale whole-of-society response from Polish government agencies, international organizations and civil society, the coordination of which was challenging. Refugee needs were multifaceted and included shelter, mental health and psychosocial support, infectious disease risks, and access to treatment and healthcare particularly for non-communicable diseases. Protection and safeguarding concerns were high with regards to gender-based violence, sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment, as well as human trafficking risks. There were considerable informational needs, both for refugees but also responders. Importantly, the evolving nature of needs highlighted the need for ongoing disease monitoring and needs assessments.

The mission team formulated a set of recommendations, which includes further refugee needs assessments to inform strategic refugee response, planning for the longer term needs of refugees, and the strengthening further health and disease monitoring. The mission team also identified opportunities for IANPHI member institutes to be engaged.

Read the Mission Report

See also: Andrew C.K. Lee, Fu-Meng Khaw, Anja E.S. Lindman, Grzegorz Juszczyk, Ukraine refugee crisis: evolving needs and challenges, Public Health, Volume 217, 2023, Pages 41-45, ISSN 0033-3506, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.puhe.2023.01.016.

Mission Team

Mission team at the Ukraine-Poland border crossing at Korczowa. From left to right: Major Stanisfaw Hasiak, Radosfaw Wiatr, Dr. Anja Schou Lindman, Professor Fu-Meng Khaw, Professor Andrew Lee, Dr. Grzegorz Juszczyk

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