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: 26/05/22

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 and 2021, UNHCR supported the Office for Foreigners in managing practical aspects of proceedings during the pandemic.[6]

 

Access to NGOs and UNHCR

Applicants are generally informed about legal assistance provided by NGOs by the posters and leaflets in the Office for Foreigners, Office for Foreigners website, reception centres and detention centres as well as by the officers. Despite the ongoing pandemic, NGOs were allowed to access reception centres. According to the Office for Foreigners, as of September 2021 there were 7 NGOs visiting reception centres.[7]

Conversely, persons seeking international protection located at the border definitely had problems with access to NGOs and UNHCR as not only the border, but the area near the border zone (surrounding forests and villages) was subject to state of emergency. On the situation at the border see Access to the territory and push backs.

 

 

 

[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 and 26 January 2022.

[7] Letter of the Office for Foreigners to the Commissioner for Human Rights, 10 September 2021, available (PL) at: https://bit.ly/3LobRny.

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