Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR

Poland

Country Report: Information for asylum seekers and access to NGOs and UNHCR Last updated: 16/04/21

Author

Independent

Provision of information on the procedure

The same level of information on the asylum procedure is provided to applicants during all types of procedures. The Border Guard officer who receives an asylum application has to inform in writing the applicant in a language that they understand on:[1]

  • Rules related to the asylum procedure;
  • Rights and obligations of the asylum seeker and their legal consequences;
  • The possibility of informing UNHCR of an asylum procedure, reading the files, making notes and copies;
  • NGOs which work with asylum seekers;
  • The scope of the material reception conditions and medical assistance;
  • Access to the free of charge state legal aid;
  • The address of the centre where the applicant will live in.

This information, covering the list of NGOs, is provided at the border crossing points and is available in 22 languages.[2]

The Office for Foreigners also offers information in the form of a booklet entitled “First steps in Poland – Guidebook for foreigners applying for international protection,” available in 6 languages (Russian, English, Georgian, Arabic, French and Polish) and contains basic information on Poland, Polish law regarding asylum seekers and social assistance.[3] With regard to general information on the asylum procedure, rights and obligations of asylum seekers etc. as well as information on rights after protection is granted it has to be stressed that they are formulated in legal terms and are therefore not easily understandable.

Asylum seekers are informed about the Dublin procedure when they apply for international protection in accordance with the Dublin III Regulation and the Commission’s Implementing Regulation no 118/2014, including the specific leaflet for unaccompanied children.[4]

Information about the possibility to contact UNHCR is available at the Office for Foreigners (in English, Russian, French, Arabic and Vietnamese) and in reception and detention centres. The instructions for asylum applicants provided by the Border Guard contain information about the possibility to contact UNHCR and NGOs. According to the Border Guards the instructions are provided in every unit, also at the border and are available in 22 languages.[5]

In 2020, UNHCR supported the Office for Foreigners in managing practical aspects of proceedings during the pandemic.[6]

Access to NGOs and UNHCR

Since mid-2015 there is an ongoing problem with distributing AMIF funding, which significantly reduces the capacity of NGOs to provide information and assistance in reception centres. Since then, every year NGOs are forced to limit their personnel and fields of assistance provided so far (legal, psychological or integration assistance).

NGOs organise fundraising events to be able to continue their activities[7] or rely on voluntary work. Although in 2019 there were some new calls open for NGOs, only 6 projects obtained funding concerning asylum seekers. Nevertheless, NGOs have been playing a crucial role in supporting asylum seekers in many fields – including legal assistance, psychological assistance and integration assistance. Their activities, although in many cases short-term – due to the lack of stable funding – have managed to fill in the gaps of the system in many dimensions.[8]

Asylum seekers are informed about legal assistance provided by NGOs by the posters and leaflets in the Office for Foreigners, reception centres and detention centres as well as by the officers.

 

 

[1]  Article 30(1)(5) Law on Protection.

[2] Information provided by the Border Guard, 11 January 2018.

[3] Office for Foreigners, First steps in Poland handbook, available at: http://bit.ly/2BEraXC.

[4] Information provided by the Border Guard, 17 January 2020.

[5] Information provided by the Border Guard, 17 January 2020.

[6] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 26 January 2021.

[7] Refugee.pl cited in “Refugee.pl has helped foreigners for years. The Government blocks funding, will you help?” 14 December 2018, available at: http://bit.ly/2BH0g0A.

[8] See e.g. psychological assistance in: Pachocka, M. and Sobczak-Szelc K., ‘Refugee Protection Poland – Country Report’, Multilevel Governance of Mass Migration in Europe and Beyond Project (Horizon2020), January 2020, available at: https://bit.ly/2WpN0sh, p.71.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation