Conditions in reception facilities

Poland

Country Report: Conditions in reception facilities Last updated: 30/11/20

Author

Independent

The Head of the Office for Foreigners is responsible for the management of all the centres. This authority can delegate its responsibility for managing the centres to social organisations, associations, etc.[1] Currently 6 reception centres, one less than in 2018, are managed by the private contractors (private owners and companies).[2]

The Office for Foreigners monitors the situation in the centres managed by private contractors on a daily basis through the Office’s employees working in those centres and through the overall inspections taking place two times a year.[3] Asylum seekers can complain to the Office for Foreigners on the situation in the centres and they use this opportunity in practice.[4] In 2017 there were only 2 complaints, none of which was considered legitimate.[5] In 2018, 8 complaints were registered: 4 – considered other foreigners staying in the centre, 1 – medical assistance, 1 – improper behaviour of the centre’s employee and 1 – the food in the centre.[6] In 2019, the Office for Foreigners registered 13 complaints, all of which concerned medical assistance.[7]

The existence of the centres raises some concerns of their neighbours. In 2018, Association ‘I love Białystok’ applied to Ministry of Interior and Administration to take measures to protect Polish citizens living near the centre in Białystok and eventually close it down.[8] The centre continued operating in 2019.

 

Overall living conditions

 

Living conditions differ across the reception centres. In the centres managed by private contractors ensuring certain minimum living conditions standards is obligatory on the basis of agreements between these contractors and the Office for Foreigners. Thus, centres have to have furnished rooms for asylum applicants, a separate common room for men and for women, kindergarten, space to practice religion, a recreation area, school rooms, specified number of refrigerators and washing machines.[9] Other conditions are dependent on the willingness and financial capacities of the contractor.[10]

The Supreme Audit Office (during an audit which took place in years 2012-2014) concluded that living conditions in 10 controlled centres as good.[11] However, generally, asylum seekers assess the conditions in the centres rather low.[12] In the research conducted in the centre in Grupa foreigners predominantly complained on the food served in the centre. They assessed the centre’s cleanliness, appearance and furnishings mostly as ‘average’ or ‘bad’.[13] In 2019 the UNHCR conducted the monitoring in the centre in Biała Podlaska[14] but the findings are not publicly available.

None of the centres was built in order to serve as a centre for foreigners. Most of them were used for different purposes before, as army barracks, hostels for workers or holiday resorts.[15] The standard in those centres is diverse, but generally rather low. Most often one family stays in one room, without separated bedrooms or kitchen. Moreover, usually the centres do not offer separated bathrooms and kitchens, only the common ones.[16]

The Office for Foreigners reported in 2019 that in the reception centre in Dębak the renovation works has ended. The renovation was aimed in improvement of reception conditions for asylum seekers.[17]

No protests or hunger strikes in centres have been reported in years 2014-2017 and in 2019.[18] In 2018 an asylum seeker informed the Office for Foreigners in writing that he has started a hunger strike due to the fact that his and his wife’s asylum procedures had been separated because they had split up.[19]   

In every centre, there are two kinds of workers: employees of the Office for Foreigners and other employees (as kitchen aids, cleaners etc.). As regards the staff rate, in 2019, one employee of the Office for Foreigners was maximally in charge of 120 asylum seekers (staying outside and inside centres) and 75 asylum seekers (living in the centres).[20]

As of December 2019, there were 29 employees of Office for Foreigners working in all the centres and a variable number of other workers.[21] Staff in the centre is working from Monday to Friday from 7:00 to 18:00. They are mainly responsible for the administration of the centre, not for a social work with asylum seekers. The number of employees of the Office for Foreigners and the scope of their responsibilities is considered insufficient.[22] At night and on weekends only guards are present in the centre Security staff is available in all centres around the clock.[23] In the research conducted in the centre in Grupa the employers of the centre were evaluated by asylum seekers positively.[24]

 

Activities in the centres

 

Asylum seekers can go outside from the centre whenever they want, during the day, but they should be back before 23:00 in the evening.[25]

Polish language courses are organised in all reception centres, also for children. Those courses are considered the only integration activity provided by the Office for Foreigners.[26] See more in Access to Education.

In 2019 NGOs carried out some projects in the centres which aimed at general integration, learning Polish, vocational training, cultural activities, and psychological and legal assistance.[27] In the centre in Linin there were no integration, vocational nor cultural activities provided by the NGOs (only legal and psychological assistance was provided there). In other centres the NGOs mostly organised activities for children. Adults could consult a cultural mentor (in 3 centres), take part to events engaging the local community (2 centres), handicraft workshops (one centre), integration meetings, touristic trips as well as go to cinema (one centre). In two centres some other activities for adults (unspecified in the information from the Office for Foreigners) were provided.[28] The NGOs’ presence in the centres depends on their funding. Compared to 2018, the NGOs’ presence in the centres seems to be considerably diminished. Moreover, most of their activities has started only in September 2019.

5 centres have libraries. In all centres access to internet is provided.[29]

In all centres there is a special room designed for religious practices.[30] If asylum seekers want to participate in religious services outside of the centre, they have such a right, although in practice remoteness from the closest place of worship can prevent them from participating in such services.

 


[1] Article 79(2) Law on Protection.

[2] Information from the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[3] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019 and 22 January 2020.

[4]Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 25 March 2014; Para 17 of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[5]Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 1 February 2018.

[6]Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019.

[7]Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[8]E Wołosik, ‘Inicjatywa "Kocham Białystok" chce likwidacji ośrodka dla cudzoziemców w mieście’, 7 May 2018, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2GZfUqu.

[9] Office for Foreigners, Guidebook Department of Social Assistance (2019), available at: https://bit.ly/31xfDnV, 4.

[10]  Commissioner for Human Rights, Realizacja prawa małoletnich cudzoziemców do edukacji. Raport RPO, 2013, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/1Hz4N4a, 22.

[11] Supreme Audit Office, Pomoc społeczna dla uchodźców. Informacja o wynikach kontroli, November 2015, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/2lP90Z4, 20-21.

[12] See i.a. W. Goszczyński, R. Baczyński-Sielaczek, J. Suchomska, J. Stankowska and M. Wróblewski. ‘Lokalne systemy integracji uchodźców – badania’ in Fundacja EMIC and Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, Wielogłos. Integracja uchodźców w polskich gminach (2016), avaialble (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/31uBLiE, 64.

[13]  Ibid, 65-67.

[14]  Information from the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[15] See Lukasiewicz, K., ‘Exile to Poverty: Policies and Poverty Among Refugees in Poland’, International Migration Vol. 55 (6) 2017, 61.

[16 W. Goszczyński, R. Baczyński-Sielaczek, J. Suchomska, J. Stankowska and M. Wróblewski. ‘Lokalne systemy integracji uchodźców – badania’ in Fundacja EMIC and Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, Wielogłos. Integracja uchodźców w polskich gminach (2016), avaialble (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/31uBLiE, 63, 67.

[17] Office for Foreigners, ‘Remont ośrodka w Podkowie Leśnej – Dębaku’, 20 February 2019, available (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/2UvOsbF.

[18] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 1 February 2018 and 22 January 2020.

[19]Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 15 January 2019.

[20] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Concerns expressed by SIP, 8 January 2020.

[23] Office for Foreigners, Guidebook Department of Social Assistance (2019), available at: https://bit.ly/31xfDnV, 8.

[24]W. Goszczyński, R. Baczyński-Sielaczek, J. Suchomska, J. Stankowska and M. Wróblewski. ‘Lokalne systemy integracji uchodźców – badania’ in Fundacja EMIC and Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, Wielogłos. Integracja uchodźców w polskich gminach (2016), avaialble (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/31uBLiE, 68.

[25] Para 12(3) of the Annex to the Regulation on rules of stay in the centre for asylum seekers.

[26]W. Goszczyński, R. Baczyński-Sielaczek, J. Suchomska, J. Stankowska and M. Wróblewski. ‘Lokalne systemy integracji uchodźców – badania’ in Fundacja EMIC and Pracownia Zrównoważonego Rozwoju, Wielogłos. Integracja uchodźców w polskich gminach (2016), avaialble (in Polish) at: https://bit.ly/31uBLiE, 69.

[27] Information provided by the Office for Foreigners, 22 January 2020.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Office for Foreigners, Guidebook Department of Social Assistance (2019), available at: https://bit.ly/31xfDnV, 4. See also Supreme Audit Office, Pomoc społeczna dla uchodźców. Informacja o wynikach kontroli, November 2015, available (in Polish) at: http://bit.ly/2lP90Z4, 9.

 

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