Poland and refugees: Some people are more welcome than others

Polish society is currently strongly divided into those who support and those who oppose refugee assistance, with the latter seemingly being the majority. While the topic has stayed in the newspaper headlines, the government has been resistant to adapt to new realities, or search for an EU-wide solution to the problem. It is mostly small groups of individuals who are filling the gap, coming up with concrete ways to help re-envision a new European solidarity.

Photo: CreativeCommons/Jaap Arrlens


Jihad, a Syrian refugee now living in Berlin, admits that he would not have considered Poland as a place to settle. “When I decided to go to Germany, it was because I knew that it would be easier to integrate and start a new life here,” 1 he tells the V4Revue. Jihad explains that Poland did not seem like a good place to go because, “officials openly state that they do not want refugees in their country. And if someone tells you that you are not welcome, you will not think of going there,” he explains.

Karam, who also came to Germany from Syria, knows a lot about Poland. He is a fan of Polish culture and art: “Poland brings to mind great artists such as Chopin,” 2 he says. Karam admits that coming to Poland was an idea that crossed his mind before. However, after he arrived in Germany he saw videos on the Internet that featured Polish politicians talking about their refusal to take refugees, and he realized that: “In Poland, just as in any other country, the politicians try to fool their people. This is true for many countries, but I have a feeling that for Poland this is even more true – using the weakest people who cannot defend themselves, to achieve political purposes,” he says.

Both the former and the new Polish government that emerged after October 2015’s parliamentary election initially opposed the quotas set by the EU Commission. Former PM Ewa Kopacz stressed how her country could only help genuine asylum seekers and not new economic migrants, 3 but eventually her government agreed to welcome the 7,000 refugees Brussels had allocated to Poland. 4 However the government now in charge is openly against welcoming anyone arriving from areas outside of Europe except for those citizens of the six former USSR republics. 5

The current Polish position on refugees resembles the Hungarian one. However, when looking into official data on asylum seekers in Europe, Hungary received 174,000 asylum applications in 2015 – 17 times more than Poland. Adjusting for the fact that Hungary only has a quarter of the population Poland does, means that for every 1.78 asylum requests Hungary receives per 100 inhabitants, Poland only receives 0.03 – that is 68 times less. So when it comes to refugees, these numbers illustrate that Warsaw’s situation is not comparable to the one in Budapest.

Despite its rich multicultural past, with significant Jewish, German, Lithuanian and Ukrainian minorities living side-by-side within its old pre-WW2 borders, contemporary Poland is one of the most homogenous states in the EU. Today the country hosts just about 700,000 foreigners, approximately 2% of the country’s population. 6 Nearly 94% of the Polish residents that took part in the 2011 national census identified themselves as “ethnically Polish”. 7

The most numerous foreigners in Poland now are the Ukrainians, Belarusians and Vietnamese, while the presence of refugees is still marginal. Because meeting a foreign face in major Polish cities is still rare today, millions of Poles born after WW2, who grew up during the Communist regime have no first hand familiarity with foreigners, and are often diffident towards them.

One of the very first long-term opinion polls on refugees held in post-89 democratic Poland, shows how mercurial public opinion can be on this issue. 8 In 1992, when respondents were asked what actions should be taken towards refugees, 55% of them answered “Let them stay in Poland longer,” 12% said “Take actions to send them back home,” while only 3% agreed that refugees should stay in Poland permanently. Fast forward five years later to 1997, and support for refugees staying in Poland longer had fallen to 29%, and support for sending refugees back home had risen to 31%, but support for letting refugees stay in Poland permanently had also risen to 14%.

In 2005, a poll on foreigners and refugees was held in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, 9 and Poles seemed much more open to foreigners and refugees than their neighbors: 62% of them believed that foreigners had the right to settle in their country, while only 23% of Hungarians, 26% of Czechs, and 34% of Slovaks said the same. However only 13% of Poles were ready to accept political refugees, while 31% said they were not.

In 2008, 53% of the Polish respondents in another poll, 10 agreed that their country should uphold its duties as an EU member and take part in finding solutions to the “refugee crises”. Solidarity with asylum seekers was confirmed when the latest refugee crisis had already begun. The European Social Survey conducted between April and September 2015 showed that 63.4% of the Poles questioned believed their government “should show kindness when examining requests for refugee status,” up from 62.9% in 2002. 11

Some refugees more acceptable than others

However, public opinion shifts easily and not all refugees are perceived the same way. In June 2015 a poll by CBOS  12 showed that 53% of Polish respondents were against granting asylum to Africans and those from the Middle East, while only 36% felt the same way about Ukrainian asylees.

In September 2015, a poll conducted for the daily, Rzeczpospolita, determined that only 16% of Poles were in favor of welcoming refugees into their country; and 10% thought Poland should only receive Christian refugees; while 26% of respondents were against welcoming refugees at all. 13 This diffidence towards asylum seekers was also apparent in the three out of every 10 respondents’ view that shutting the EU borders was the best way to resolve the refugee crisis, and in the 61% of respondents that said they would not open their own homes to refugees.

This growing perception of refugees as people Poland should keep out can be seen in another September 2015 poll conducted by TVN24 news broadcasting network, with 56% of respondents saying they did not support their country  accepting refugees. 14

These negative attitudes might be explained by Poles’ overestimation of how many foreigners are actually living in their country. July 2015 research by the International Organization for Migration showed that one in four Poles thought that foreigners accounted for up to 10% of Poland’s population, while the actual percentage is about five times less. 15

Whereas most recent studies suggest the majority of Poles are against hosting refugees in their country, May 2016 research conducted by Amnesty International that surveyed people across 27 countries reported a different picture.  16 The global survey found that 56% of Polish interviewees said they would accept those fleeing war or persecution, while 43% of Poles agreed their government should do more to help refugees.

Refugees Welcome with Bread and Salt

Refugees Welcome Poland (RWP) is the Polish initiative of a German project that started in November 2014 and is now active in 12 countries. “We decided to do something when the media discourse around refugees in Poland became more widespread, and at the same time more hateful towards them. We couldn’t accept that, and wanted to change it,”  17 recounts Zofia, one of the founders of RWP.

At the end of May 2016, the project counted only 40 volunteers and about 60 Polish households that were ready to provide accommodations to refugees. Zofia explains that one reason the numbers seem scarce is because the project only focuses on hosts living in Poland’s two major cities, Kraków and Warsaw. There, Zofia says, “refugees can get support from NGOs and can form communities with other immigrants from their countries.”

Zofia also offers another possible reason more Poles are not eager to join the project: “the media and government discourse on refugees, and simply the fear of the unknown,” she says.

Unfortunately, fear of the unknown sometimes triggers enmity. “We have been receiving a lot of hate recently, although the initial reactions to our project were optimistic,” Zofia laments, and then explains that, “the hate speech towards refugees and foreigners in general is definitely growing.” Relocation plans for refugees may have been put on hold by the Polish government, but “refugees in Poland still exist,” Zofia says, stressing how, “most of these people have enormous problems finding accommodations because they’re foreigners.” “We help them out as much as we can,” she adds.

Another initiative, Bread and Salt (Chlebem i Solą), has spread through Poland in the last few months. Founded in July 2014, the initiative aims to debunk negative stereotypes associated with refugees, its name referring to the old Polish tradition of welcoming guests by offering them bread and salt. Chlebem i Solą also started uchodzcy.info (refugees.info), a Polish-language portal created with the help of the Stefan Batory Foundation that focuses on the “migration crisis,” suggesting possible ways to help refugees.

“Although this topic has not left the front pages of Polish newspapers for months, there was still no complex source of reliable information that would help sort out the facts and make factual discussions possible,” stresses Michał Borkiewicz, one of the founders of Chlebem i Solą. 18 According to Borkiewicz, “informational chaos fosters repeating stereotypes and nourishes prejudice,” and explains, “that’s why the public debate on refugees here [in Poland] came down to alarmingly low levels.” 19

Chlebem i Solą is aware that their efforts to soften the Polish public’s negative stereotypes towards refugees will not be easy. “There’s a flood of propaganda instilling fear that spreads widely on the Internet, spreading tens times faster than positive information does,” 20 says Borkiewicz, and then adds, “all we hope to do is provide people, who now fear refugees with reliable information so they will be less afraid of them.” 21

Welcoming refugees: founded in democratic or Catholic values?

The Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD) is the most significant civic organization to emerge in Poland over the last few years. Founded on social networks in November 2015 22 at the beginning of the “Polish constitutional crisis,” by blogger, Mateusz Kijowski, the Committee quickly gained prominence and moved from the Internet to the streets. Seven months and many manifestations later, KOD has hundreds of thousands of supporters, 23 but does not aim to be a political force.

“Our main goal is to defend democracy and we stand against all government decisions that limit the freedom of its citizens,” 24 explains Katarzyna Szymaniuk, Young KOD’s regional coordinator in Pomerania. “We do not claim that the current government should be dismissed, because it was chosen in a democratic election. However, we are against decisions that endanger the social and legal order in Poland, no matter who is in power, by defending the rule of law,” she adds.

Although the positions of KOD on many subjects are well known, they have not taken a stand on refugee quotas. “Nobody within KOD has made an official statement on the issue so far,” confirms Szymaniuk. She believes that, “Poles should express their solidarity with refugees and respect human rights, because they apply to everyone, and many violations occur in the countries where refugees come from.”

Caritas, a Catholic charity run by the Polish Episcopal Conference, has been helping refugees for a long time, including those coming from the Near East. The organization is in charge of the numerous Centers of Support for Migrants and Refugees all around Poland, which have been assisting 5,000 refugees over the last two years.

Father Marian Subocz, the director of Caritas Poland, says that, “migrants and refugees have always been a group we attend to and will continue to attend to with particular care.” 25 During the latest plenary meeting of the Polish Episcopal Conference, Caritas was granted the permission to organize a humanitarian corridor from the Near East. The idea behind these corridors is to safely transfer small groups of refugees by plane in order to prevent their dangerous attempts to migrate via the sea. 26

The Catholic Church in Poland has, however, not always been this active in looking for solutions to the refugee crisis. In September 2015 the Episcopate admitted that “it is necessary to help those who suffer from wars,” but then added only “in their countries of origin.” 27 And when the Pope’s made an appeal to Catholic parishes to host refugees, a portion of the Polish clergy responded by saying that, “the Pope’s words about refugees were not dogma.” 28

Fearing Muslim refugees: National Radical Camp and Estera Foundation

Whereas Caritas Poland and other Catholic organizations have recently begun taking steps to help migrants and refugees of all religious beliefs, some Poles are concerned by what they perceive as a threat – the Islamization of Europe. In an October 2015 Ibris poll, 43% of respondents felt that Polish culture was being threatened by the flow of migrants from the Near East. Moreover, in the youngest group polled by Ibris, the 18 to 24-year-old age group, nearly 80% of respondents agreed that Poland was under threat of Islamization. 29

Among those were the supporters of the National Radical Camp (ONR, Obóz Narodowo Radykalny), a far-right group descending from a political movement that existed before WW2, and bore the same name. Today the ONR organizes “patriotic manifestations,” “opposes leftist propaganda,” and “propagates the national idea using various methods,” 30 as their website claims. The group is particularly active in expressing its discontent towards refugees, and in September 2015 held a series of rallies against them in Polish towns.

One of the most distinctive supporters of the ONR is a Catholic priest, Jacek Międlar, who is considered to be the group’s spiritual guide. During a 2015 march the group organized on November 11th, the anniversary of Polish independence, he compared refugees to the Soviet army entering Poland in 1944. “Back then, we were told the Soviets were awaited guests; In 2015, we are told the same about Islamic fundamentalists, and we’re forced into it,”  31 Międlar said, then warned that, “Islamic fundamentalism is a crime that is leading to the total destruction of Latin civilization.” 32

Międlar and the ONR are not alone in their claims. Miriam Shaded, born and bred in Poland and the daughter of a Syrian Presbyterian pastor, launched the Estera Foundation (Fundacja Estera) in reaction to the humanitarian crisis that evolved from Syria’s civil war. While the foundation organizes Syrian families’ travel to Poland, assists them in finding accommodations and supports them financially, they only offer help to Christian families.

According to Shaded, Islam is contradictory to the Polish constitution and should legally be banned. Her argument is founded on a Polish law that bans organizations that aim to introduce political systems based on violence. “This is exactly what jihad is,”  33 she said. She also went a step further saying that, “non-Christian refugees are a threat to Poland,”  34 suggesting that this avenue is “a great way for ISIS to locate their troops all around Europe.” 35

When the Pope washed the feet of the refugees this year on Easter, the feet of the refugees this year on Easter, the Catholic media reacted strongly. According to Tomasz Terlikowski, a Catholic journalist and activist activist, “reducing Jesus’ gesture to a token of charity and solidarity with those excluded, flattens the great theology of Christ.” 36 Others commented on the foreboding symbolism of the Pope’s gesture, warning that among the apostles whose feet Jesus washed, was Judas, the one who later betrayed him. 37 

Poland and the EU: contrasts on migrant quotas

“The Polish population’s homogeneity and lack of direct contact with outsiders, can be seen as one of the main sources of anti-immigrant sentiment,” 38 explains professor Paweł Kaczmarczyk, Director of the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw. The limited contact the last three generations of Poles had with foreigners over the last 70 years also means that the Polish state may be at a loss when it comes to welcoming migrants as well.

“The main challenge for Polish society and the administration, is their limited experience with integration policies and measures,” says Kaczmarczyk. It took several years for the Ukrainians, Belarusians and Vietnamese to become relatively well-integrated in Poland, but migrants coming from Syria or Afghanistan can not rely on an established network of compatriots to help them settle in.

“What we have observed here recently is a clear ‘transposition’ of others countries’ immigration debates, as observed in France, Germany or Poland. The only difference is that we do not have any large group of humanitarian migrants, or enough immigrants to burden state budgets,” explains Kaczmarczyk, adding that in Poland today, “there is a clear distinction between ‘useful’ groups of immigrants that help our economy, such as Ukrainians or Vietnamese, and the ‘other’ potential refugees, who are hardly even represented in the country thus far.”

In the wake of the UK’s EU referendum, Poles residing there experienced a resurgence of hostility towards them from locals, 39 with a rapid increase of intimidations 40 following the vote.  41 This wave of hate aimed at the UK’s largest community of foreigners,  42 enraged the Polish authorities and media. However, their anger was not shared for the numerous foreigners targeted by radical nationalists in Poland.

In 2014, before the refugee crisis, there were as many as 778 “hate crimes” recorded by the Polish police, many of them targeting ethnic and religious minorities. 43 Yet in April of this year, the Polish government decided to abolish the national watchdog that monitored and investigated hate crimes, the Council Against Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, which was founded in 2011.  44 The Council was judged “ineffective,” soon after Poland’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Adam Bodnar, warned of increasing hate speech and racial beatings in the country.  45

The Hungarian Premier, Viktor Orbán, blamed the outcome of the British vote on the EU’s immigration policies,  46 and called for an October 2nd national referendum  47 asking Hungarians whether they approve or reject the migrant quotas set by the EU. So with no such vote at the door in Poland, will the country be obliged to welcome its mandatory quota of migrants?

“There are no direct legal obligations to force Poland to act in a certain way regarding the migrant quotas,  48” answers Paweł Laidler, professor at the Institute of American Studies and the Polish Diaspora at Jagiellonian University in Kraków. However, even though there is no bases in current EU legislation that can make Poland accept refugees, the country still has a political obligation it should follow. Nonetheless, Laidler believes, “the current Polish government will decide to neglect the quotas set by Brussels.”

Asylum seekers through the eye of a needle  

Of the 5,300 refugees that applied for asylum in Poland in the first half of 2016, only 42 received it – one out of 126.  49 This means that officially being recognized as a refugee in Poland has become much more difficult than it used to be. In 2015 Poland granted refugee status to one out of 34 applicants, with 348 individuals accepted out of the 12,000 requests. 50 The majority of these applicants were Russians of Chechen origin, Ukrainians and Taijiks. Moreover, since January 2016, only 200 Syrian asylum seekers have entered Poland.  51 Even though most of the migrants from the Near East and Africa may not reach Poland at all, the media and the Polish public’s sudden interest in migration has even affected the lives of people that settled in the country some time ago.

Grotniki, a village near Łódź, hosts one of 11 asylum centers in Poland, and it is here that many asylees coming from the former Soviet Republics await decisions that determine their refugee statuses. The center, which opened in 2010, has had no major problems,  52 until recently, when Grotniki residents asked for the camp to be relocated due to the possibility that the center may host Syrian refugees.  53 And in March of this year, the ONR decided to “intervene” by organizing street patrols to “ensure the safety” of Poles in Grotniki. 54

What happened in Grotniki reflects many Poles’ change of heart towards migrants and refugees, and the refugees are aware of how Poles feel about them. When asked whether he would consider coming to Poland if people were more welcoming towards refugees, Jihad replies that he would: “What really matters and what makes you want to go somewhere, is the welcoming approach of a country and its people, whatever their nationality is.”

Poles’ limited experience with migrants is being exploited by some politicians’ use of the “refugee crisis” as a political tool, which is exacerbating fears, and leading to negative opinions and attitudes towards not only refugees, but all people of diverse nationalities, cultures and religious beliefs.

“Do you know what my name really means?” asks Jihad. “Most people think that jihad translates to ‘holy war,’ but this is a misconception,” he says. “Jihad means struggling or striving, trying your best to be a good man, and doing everything you can to make your family prosper; it means to make an effort in whatever you do,” he explains, and he’s been living up to his name’s true meaning.

“I made an effort to integrate into the German society. I learned the German language in just a few months. Just like my name tells me, I tried my best to do so,” he says. “I would do the same if I lived in Poland.”

Notes:

  1. Jihad, all further quotes taken from a conversation with one of the authors in Strasbourg, May 21, 2016.
  2. Karam, all further quotes taken from a conversation with one of the authors in Strasbourg, May 21, 2016.
  3. Jan Cienski, “Poland to aid refugees, not economic migrants,” Politico Europe, September 4, 2015, http://politi.co/1JHigF1 (accessed on July 8th, 2016).
  4. Bart Bachman, “Diminishing Solidarity: Polish Attitudes toward the European Migration and Refugee Crisis,” Migration Policy Institute, June 16, 2016, http://bit.ly/1UcPYFa (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  5. Migrant Info.pl, “Oświadczenie o zamiarze powierzenia pracy cudzoziemcowi,” http://bit.ly/1lrHPSd (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  6. Wyniki Narodowego Spisu Powszechnego Ludności i Mieszkań 2011, March 2012, http://bit.ly/29WD8gK (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  7. Ibid.
  8. “Polacy Wobec Uchodźców,” CBOS, December 1997, http://bit.ly/29IPNko (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  9. “Opinie Ludności z krajów Europy środkowej o imigrantach i uchodźcach,” CBOS, March 2005, http://bit.ly/29ZAHth (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  10. “Polacy o uchodźcach,” TNS, November 2015, http://bit.ly/29NWLcf (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  11. Katarzyna Andrejuk, “Postawy wobec imigrantów w świetle wyników Europejskiego Sondażu Społecznego 2014-2015. Polska na tle Europy,” IFIS, Polish Academy of Sciences – Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, December 2015, http://bit.ly/29IQF8G (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  12. “Opinions about refugee crisis,” CBOS, June 2015, http://bit.ly/29Bq1Dt (accessed on July 11, 2016).
  13. “Poll finds Poles divided over asylum for refugees,” Radio Poland, September 7, 2015, http://bit.ly/29Bpb9P (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  14. “Wciąż więcej przeciwników przyjmowania uchodźców. Sondaż dla “Faktów” TVN i TVN24,” TVN 24, October 1, 2015, http://bit.ly/29BqtBu (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  15. “Jak Polacy nastawieni są do imigrantów? Najnowszy sondaż,” Polskie Radio.pl, July 23, 2015, http://bit.ly/29XrkOa (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  16. “Poland fairly welcoming to refugees: report,” Radio Poland, May 19, 2016, http://bit.ly/29JyvWr (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  17. Zofia from “Refugees Welcome Poland,” all further quotes taken from an email exchange with one of the authors, May 20, 2016.
  18. “’Uchodzcy.info’. Największy polski portal poświęcony tematyce uchodźczej,” Newsweek Polska, May 24, 2016, 2016, http://bit.ly/29Jnp7F (accessed on July 8, 2016).
  19. Ibid.
  20. Tomasz Gołąb, “Nie przez uchodźców pustoszeją kościoły,” Gość Niedzielny, May 23, 2016, http://bit.ly/29KEAmL (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  21. Ibid.
  22. Jan Cienski, Jo Harper, “Hipster behind Poland’s anti-government resistance. Mateusz Kijowski models his movement on the old anti-communist dissidents,” Politico Europe, April 19, 2016, http://politi.co/1Qjxeka (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  23. Facebook, http://bit.ly/29Xr8yp (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  24. Katarzyna Szymaniuk, all further quotes taken from an interview with one of the authors, June 8, 2016.
  25. “Światowy Dzień Uchodźcy,” Caritas.pl, June 20, 2016, http://bit.ly/29ZB5YI (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  26. “Korytarz humanitarny dla uchodźców z Bliskiego Wschodu? Zorganizuje go Caritas Polska,” PCh24.pl, June 8, 2016, http://bit.ly/29JyvWe (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  27. Piotr Kołodziejski, “Apel papieża w sprawie uchodźców to nie dogmat,” Radio Szczecin, May 10, 2016,  http://bit.ly/29BpMZ2 (accessed on July 12,  2016).
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibris, “Obawy przed islamizacją Polski w wyniku napływu imigrantów z Bliskiego Wschodu,” October 5, 2015, http://bit.ly/29KFuj7 (accessed on July 12, 2016).
  30. “Czym jest ONR?” ONR.com.pl, http://bit.ly/29Jo60T (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  31. Michał Wilgocki & Paweł Kośmiński,”Przemówienia na Marszu Niepodległości. Ks. Jacek Międlar: Nie chcemy w Polsce Allaha, nie chcemy gwałtów,” November 11, 2015, http://bit.ly/29JyIJ8 (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  32. Ibid.
  33. Mariusz Staniszewski, “Miriam Shaded dla ‘Wprost’: Islam powinien być w Polsce zdelegalizowany, jest sprzeczny z konstytucją,” Wprost, March 7, 2016, http://bit.ly/29BqqpA (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  34. Zosia Wąsik & Henry Foy, “Poland favours Christian refugees from Syria,” Financial Times, August 21, 2015, http://on.ft.com/29El9cq (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  35. Ibid.
  36. Tomasz Terlikowski, Fronda, “Papież obmyje nogi dwunastu uchodźcom. Czy to dobry pomysł?” March 23, 2016, http://bit.ly/29K2s7u (accessed on July 12, 2016).
  37. W obronie Wiary i Tradycji Katolickiej, “Papież umyje nogi imigrantom – jak Jezus umył nogi Judaszowi,” March 23, 2016, http://bit.ly/29EltYI (accessed on July 12,  2016).
  38. Pawel Kaczmarczyk, all further quotes taken from a mail exchange with one of the authors June 6, 2016.
  39. “Poland shocked by xenophobic abuse of Poles in UK,” Al Jazeera, June 27, 2016, http://bit.ly/28YmnRb (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  40. “Polish family targeted in hate crime arson attack in England,” Radio Poland, July 8, 2016, http://bit.ly/29XscCs (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  41. Kate Lyons, “Racist incidents feared to be linked to Brexit result,” The Guardian, June 26, 2016, http://bit.ly/28VgId8 (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  42. “Population by country of birth and nationality,” Office for National Statistics, August 2015, http://bit.ly/29CR5yv (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  43. “Hate Crime Reporting,” OSCE ODIHR,  http://bit.ly/29XsBF2 (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  44. Zoya Sheftalovich, “Poland’s PiS abolishes anti-racism body,” Politico Europe, May 5, 2016, http://politi.co/1rw244Z (accessed on July 11, 2016).
  45. “Racial tension escalating in Poland: human rights ombudsman,” Radio Poland, March 8, 2016, http://bit.ly/29WEUOI (accessed on July 11, 2016).
  46. Georgi Gotev, “Orban blames Brexit on Commission’s migration policies,” Euractiv.com, June 24, 2016, http://bit.ly/29WEl7P (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  47. Marton Dunai, Krisztina Than, “Hungary to hold referendum on mandatory EU migrant quotas on October 2,” Reuters, July 5, 2016, http://reut.rs/29jSrBB (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  48. Paweł Laidler, all further quotes taken from a mail exchange with one of the authors July 10, 2016. 
  49. “Poland remains ‘not affected’ by refugee tide in Europe,” Radio Poland, June 20, 2016, http://bit.ly/29ISkLo (accessed on July 11, 2016).
  50. Ibid.
  51. Ibid.
  52. Jarosław Kosmatka, “Mieszkańcy Grotnik domagają się likwidacji ośrodka dla uchodźców,” Dziennik Łódzki, February 19, 2016, http://bit.ly/29ZCq1O (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  53. Maciej Kałach, “Uchodźcy z Syrii trafią do podłódzkich Grotnik?” Dziennik Łódzki, July 24, 2015, http://bit.ly/2a4Q7PR (accessed on July 9, 2016).
  54. Katarzyna Zuchowicz, “Patrole ONR będą bronić Polaków przed rasizmem. W małych, sielankowych Grotnikach: ‘Jesteśmy przerażeni. To jakiś cyrk’,” Natemat.pl, March, 2016, http://bit.ly/29JzmGK (accessed on July 9, 2016).
Agata Mazepus

Agata Mazepus

is a journalist specializing in Central and Eastern Europe. She is a graduate of the joint master degree programme "Europe in the Visegrad Perspective."

Lorenzo Berardi

Lorenzo Berardi

is a freelance journalist based in Warsaw. He is a contributor for Lettera43, The Varsovian, Polonicult and former correspondent of Lettera43 from the UK.