ACAPS report on loss of ‘UKR status’ and social benefits for Ukrainian refugees

As we can read in the ACAPS report, as of 10 October 2023, there were almost 959 000 refugees from Ukraine in Poland. Of these, 957,176 had temporary protection status. One-fifth of the refugees interviewed in Poland between October 2022 and October 2023 said they had visited Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, mainly to visit relatives, obtain documents, check property, check the situation on the ground and access healthcare. In October 2022, there were reports that some Ukrainian refugees in Poland had their temporary protection status revoked, despite still meeting the criteria for protection. The exact number of refugees affected is not known, but several thousand people may have been affected. The issue was reported to the Ombudsman and NGOs and was subsequently raised by UNHCR. There have also been reports that some refugees who do not meet the legal criteria for withdrawal of protection have stopped receiving family benefits, including those who have not left Poland.

Main conclusions

ACAPS estimates that several thousand Ukrainian refugees using temporary protection in Poland have lost this status without meeting the legal criteria for revocation. This happens when they travel to Ukraine for less than 30 days, but fail to prove to the Border Guard that they continue to be protected upon their return. The responsibility for providing evidence lies with the refugees themselves, many of whom are unaware of this obligation. The Border Guard’s data on the reason for entry is used to determine whether a person is still under temporary protection and the failure of the Border Guard to confirm this results in the loss of protection. This means that the period of stay in Poland is altered (usually reduced to a maximum of 90 days) and Ukrainian refugees lose the right to family benefits, free health care and the right to work without a work permit. Many Ukrainian refugees only find out about this fact when they try to access healthcare or when their family benefits are withdrawn.

Download report

ACAPS is an independent organisation whose mission is to help humanitarian workers, fundraisers and donors make more informed decisions and respond more effectively to disasters. They collect and analyse humanitarian data not only in Ukraine, but also in other conflict regions (e.g. Yemen, Afghanistan or Palestine). You can read more about the loss of ‘UKR status’ and social benefits for Ukrainian refugees residing in Poland in the report, which is available to download below.