More than 9 million Ukrainian refugees — mostly women and children — crossed over to Poland, according Polish Consular General Adrian Kubicki, who told CNN that some decided to go back to Ukraine, some go back and forth, and some continued on to other countries.
Kubicki said that Poland demonstrated a new model of refugee assistance as it never put people fleeing their homeland in refugee camps. Instead, they are given a PESEL, which is the equivalent of an American social security number, so they could receive resources similar to the ones available to Polish citizens, he told CNN.
Ukrainian refugees would also have access to free education for their children and legal employment. People with disabilities would receive a per diem.
"We will provide it for as long as it needs to be provided," he said, noting that there is no expiration date set for this provision.
Poland is also the hub for many non-profit organizations that wish to help Ukrainian refugees flee to Poland or relocate to other countries, he said.
One of the organizations helping refugees is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). It has been in the area since before the war, but CEO Ariel Zwang says the resources channeled in the country have greatly increased since the invasion began.
The organization's total Ukraine-related budget expanded from $63.3 million to $113 million — a 78% increase. This includes the care for Ukrainian refugees outside the country, it told CNN.
They provide impacted Jewish Ukrainians with information, assistance and evacuation abilities.
"Internally displaced people stay in JDC hotels and receive trauma therapy," Zwang said, who gave the example of an elderly woman who she met in western Ukraine after being evacuated from eastern Ukraine.
"JDC reached out to her early in the war asking if she wants to relocate [to another country], and she said, 'no, I don’t know if my homecare will continue, I don’t know anybody there,'" Zwang recounted. "But when a JDC Hesed [community center] called again, asking if she wanted to evacuate to another location within Ukraine, she agreed. So we sent her a car so she could get to a bus at 7 a .m. (local time) to evacuate."
While stopping in the city of Dnipro for a few days, the woman heard thunderstorms and thought it was shelling. Zwang said that the woman was traumatized, and said, "My god, they have found me here too.”