1 72007 ENGLISH EDITION ISSN from the Center... Pałac Kultury i Nauki URiC changed its name and location A Dworzec Centralny The institution processing alien s applications for refugee status in Poland Office for Repatriation and Aliens URiC changed both its name and location. The institution is now called Office for Foreigners (Urząd do Spraw Cudzoziemców UDSC). Its purview has been limited i. e. it does not cope with issues of granting citizenship refugees applying for Polish citizenship should contact the Ministry of Interior and Administration. URIC 138 A Plac Na Rozdrożu The Office for Foreigners is still responsible for processing applications for refugee status. Since July 2007 the point for accepting applications, interviews, issuing and prolonging identity cards is situated place in the new building, at Taborowa St. 33 (Służewiec district, south of Warsaw, near to Służewiec Hippodrome). It takes half an hour to reach the new office from the centre of Warsaw. It is most convenient to get off the bus on Taborowa bus stop (it is a request bus stop). Bokserska 04 bus stop. Is quite close to the office. In issue: Refugee from Belarus tell about themselves pages 2 3 Poland will join the Schengen zone page 4 Abolition on first page we write about aboliton just proclaimed. What s abolition and how it works in other countries page 5 Refugees rights in Union European page 6 In Poland is more work, but very often illegal. What about risk page 7 September is a time when a lot of courses for refugees start. Description of proposals... page 8 Transport connections to the office at Taborowa 33: from the Center of Warsaw (Railway Station) by the number 192: time of travel around 25 minutes, the bus is every 20 minutes, or by bus 174 to Bokserska 04 stop (the map showing how to get the building is on the right) from underground station Wilanowska by the bus 165 (direction Natolin): 9 stops, time of travel 15 minutes by the number 138 bus from the nearby stop Plac na Rozdrożu (5 min walk along Koszykowa street towards Al. Ujazdowskie) to Taborowa stop (request stop) from the underground station Wierzbno by bus 174 in direction Bokserska to Taborowa A A Taborowa UDSC Poland for refugees changes for better Summer brought a lot of changes for refugees in Poland however some of the are to be implemented in autumn. This issue of Refugee.pl is dedicated to some legal issues, which we found important. An important development is an imigration amnesty the possibility of illegal imigrants to regularize their stay in Poland. Another issues linked with law is an approaching date of Poland s entry to the Schengen zone. This will enable foreign travels for people with tolerated stay. Other equally important changes for refugees are the opportunity to benefit from social pension for disabled refugees and access of the refugees to the possibility to launch social cooperative (this concerns refugees who participate in integration program). Both those changes improve refugees situation in Poland more information can be obtained from organizations supporting refugees (listed on page 7). Poland took a decision about abolition for illegal immigrants in July Despite the fact that it doesn t relate to refugees and foreigners with tolerated stay we have dedicated a lot of attention to it. In our opinion it s needed to promote knowledge about abolition and how it works. Here is some basic information on how to exercise abolition in Poland (more information about abolition in different countries on pages 4 5). Opportunity to legalise stay is offered to foreigners who came to Poland before Deadline to submit application is 22 January To legalise Your stay in Poland You must meet three conditions: came to Poland before 1997 show Your right to flat or house (add to application document confirming deed of ownership or rent contract) prove that You have a job or pledge of employment (documents from employer have to be presented) Persons who lodge an application for legalization of their illegal stay in Poland within the framework of abolition but don t fulfill these conditions or formal requirements (for example application is lodged too late) will receive deportation order. In 2003 Poland proclaimed abolition on the same conditions. From 3508 people who lodged applications, 2413 procured agreement for legal stay. The biggest groups came from Vietnam and Armenia. One of the biggest drawbacks of that action was the lack of advertising campaign about the possibility to legalize stay - a lot of foreigners didn t know about abolition, others didn t have enough trust to reveal their presence they didn t believe they could have stayed in Poland once they uncovered their illegal arrival. Experts are critical about the abolition, as it is not likely to benefit too many people. Few immigrants can meet the strict requirement of 10 years stay in Poland (in comparison with different countries this time is very long).
2 It is a common conviction about the refugees in Poland that they arrive from Chechnya. Indeed, the Chechens constitute the largest group of incomers but not the only one. Refugees come to Poland also from other countries, in which their rights are violated. The shortest way to Poland is the privilege of the refugees from Belarus. The fifth largest group of asylum seekers in Poland originate from that country. A block of texts about the refugees from Belarus, which is published in this issue, was written by them, and at their own initiative. At one of the editorial meetings of refugee.pl a few of them said with soft Polish: We are also here! Almost two thirds of the Belarussians seeking asylum in Poland are men 126 men and only 67 women applied for refugee status within the period of the last three years. The situation looks differently in the group of recognised refugees: 22 of 40 recognised refugees and 7 of 16 persons with a tolerated residence in those years are women. (AK) The country of origin: Belarus The refugees from Belarus in Poland (data of URIC) Asylum seekers Refugee status Permit for tolerated stay Belarus Franciszek AWdziej You can learn about the geographical location of Belarus in Europe by looking at the map. Its total area is 207,600 square km. The distance from the North to the South is 560 km and from the West to the East is 650 km. The capital Minsk has a population of 2 million inhabitants and almost 1000-year-old tradition. The city has many times fallen victim to the enemies. It has been demolished and burnt down number of times, but was always rising like a Phoenix from the ashes and becoming even more beautiful. There are numerous monuments in Belarus. Most of them are connected with the world-famous activists. The Poles regards them as compatriots: the Radziwiłłowie, the Sapieha, the Ogińscy, Tadeusz Kościuszko, Eliza Orzeszkowa and many others. Poland and Belarus have rich but not always friendly common history, which is often forgotten in Poland. And we cannot forget about this history nor be ashamed of it. It should be respected and passed down on future generations. It seems to be very odd when an educated man with a good job is unable to say e.g. why Rzeczpospolita Obojga Narodów was created or what are the origins of the Jagiellon dynasty or who was the author of Ustawa Rządowa (the second constitution in the world). The Poles are proud of it but they forget here about Belarus. The most important symbols of each country are it s coat of arms and a flag. These are the controversial subjects in Belarus. State institutions and real Belarussians represent different points of view. The Belorussians honour their national symbols that bear almost 1000-year-old tradition. Showing attachment to them is viewed by the authorities with hostility and seen as anti-state. The bond of the nation is its language. When the national language does not exist, the nation dies: it vanishes among other. According to the official information there are two equal languages: Belorussian (national) and Russian (adapted). Nevertheless, it is pointless to seek Belarussian in official forms and in the offices. State officials usually have a very negative approach towards Belarussian and tend to look down on those who use that language. Belarussian speaking people are regarded as opposionists and oponents of the state the attitude towards such people is unambiguous. For an average human it is hard to comprehend that there is no state school, where it is taught in the national language. This happens in Belarus. The only school, where they teach in Belarussian is illegally working the Jakub Kołasa High School. It was officially closed down and its buildings were handed over to another institution. The result of such a policy is Russification of the society and its gradual decline. The social fall affects mostly the countryside. There are almost no true farmers left in the villages, the heirs of the Belarussian language and culture. Only people who were resettled there from Russia as part of the Russification stay there. Also they are affected by the deterioration of the society. Nothing like this was present even during the Brezniew rules, at the times of the highest drunkenness. In the past it was posible to buy 3 kilos of beef for one bottle of vodka, today one kilo of meet is worth as much as 3 bottles of vodka... According to the state statistics every year in Belarus there are 50 thousand less born than those who die. The death rate is particularly high among men many die because of poisoning with alcohol of an unknown origin. Join us! There people of different nationalities in Belarus. There are Russians who have been living in Belarus since the times of introducing communism and regard themselves as the Belarussians, but inside they are still Russian. Currently they constitute one fifth of the society. The third most numerous group are the Poles. Similarly to the represntatives of other nationalities they hae their own national assembly, where like in the Belorussian opposition there is a lack of the unity. In Belarus the religion is also affected. Different denominations have been always coexisting here without any conflicts. A good example of this are churches and Orthodox churches standing in close vicinity. Catholicism is the second largest religion when it comes to the number of the worshippers, particularly in the Grodno district. However, there is no place here for our indigenous Belorussian Orthodox church. When the worshippers with their own money build an Orthodox church in the the Grodno district, the authorities ordered to demolish it. At times when the conterporary European countries were created, Grand Duchy of Lithuania (such was the name of the country which encompassed also the lands of Belarus) was one of the biggest and the strongests countries in Europe. The country was named Belorussia at age ssian languthe end of the 19th century by Russia (even then the Belorussian language was forbidden). Belorussians call their country Dark blue-eyed there are over 10 thousand lakes and 20 thousand rivers on the territory of the country. In order to learn about the uniqueness of the Belorussian nature and to experience the hospitality of the Belorussians you need to go there. Then it is easy to come to a conclusion that they deserve a much better life and an equal treating among other Europen countries. All refugees who would like to co-create the presentations of your countries of origin as well as your prospects of living in Poland are invited. The set of texts about Belarus has been written by the refugees from that country we will willingly prepare the presentations about other countries. All refugees texts are edited. We try to remove all contents of political nature (however, we realize that in spite of our intentions, it s not always possible), because refugee.pl does not want to participate in political debate about situation in the countries of origin. We also do not want this debate to take place on our website. We want to present what refugees think about their life in Poland. We want to write on refugee.pl whether life in Poland comes up to your expectations or not, what is difficult for you in Poland, and what, on the other hand, gives you happiness and solace. Those of you who are wiling to write or tell us about your life as refugees are welcomed to contact us. Address of the editorial office: Refugee.pl, Centrum Pomocy Uchodźcom PAH (Refugee Counseling Center) ul. Szpitalna 5/18, Warszawa
3 3 Poland and Belarus: both different and similar Poland as a sieve Who are refugees? There is no unambiguous answer to this question. Every man is an individuality, a person who is not like anybody else. A refugee is a person who does not want to suffer hard living conditions in his own country and goes to another one in search for conditions that come up to his imaginations and expectations. He does it, even though he does not know what democracy looks like in a place he goes to and this is democracy that the Belarusian refugees look for. At the same time, every refugee is different, has different problems. What people have in common is the fact that when they leave their country, they are in the hands of fate, they have to face situations they have found themselves in. Most of them do not know the language, culture and customs, and above all, the law of the country, to which they have come and the problem of fending for oneself is unfortunately not so easy. Franciszek AWdziej Poland seems to be the country which for refugees is to be a sieve. Here, we can find people from Tibet and North Africa. There are thieves, globetrotters, but also conscious democracy supporters. There are people with various political beliefs, various problems. It is obvious that people who apply for the refugee status in Poland, look for better living conditions in Western Europe. There are people among them who want to escape from the unavoidable punishment for their political views, and those who no longer want to live under the dictatorship, and simply those who want to improve their abilities and intellectual potential in more civilized conditions, where human rights and dignity are respected. Poland resembles Belarus... Some refugees are disappointed with life in Poland. Everybody knows well what Belarusian reality looks like. When we look around, also in Poland we will unfortunately see many similar things which we were escaping from. For example, the same bureaucracy in the structure of the authorities perhaps many minds of common citizens in both our countries are still under influence of the communism times? On the other side, observing life in Poland, we appreciate the differences between Poland and Belarus. Belarusian democracy accounts only for civic duties to fulfill the will of a legislator. On the other hand, Poland declares and also guaranties some rights to people. In Poland only people who had or could have some relationships with security services are vetted, in Belarus it is just opposite: people who do not have such relationships, nor they had, are investigated. Both in Poland and in Belarus an ordinary blue collar worker, in comparison to other professions, earns much less. Here and there you can see many trash divers: but in each country it is a different person who searches and different things are searched for... In Belarus dust bins in rich families are particularly interesting. In Poland such families usually live in cities, in Belarus outside them. Wealth should not be seen here, should not be eye-catching, and that is what its all is about. What else do we have in common? People leave both of our countries in search for better earnings and living conditions in Western Europe states, where the opportunities cannot be compared with those in our countries. Belarusian refugees need support Those Belarusian who want to live and work in Poland should obtain the right to stay in the shortest time possible, instead of waiting for months, even years, before they receive the response related to granting the refugee status. They should also receive some help so that they could adapt to the Polish reality and we should thank them for staying here. Many Belarusian people have decided to come here to be as close to their mother country as it is possible and to do something to improve its situation. Refugees need help because they too often wander around Poland like lost children. Many of them are embittered because they do not receive even an indispensable help, even in those places where they expected it the most. So much is said about supporting democracy in Belarus but very often there are no concrete actions. To some extent we are to be blamed because the Belarusian opposition is weak and at war but it still needs help. Belarusian Self-Help Fund On Belarusian refugees own initiative, with the help of Polish people, in May 2007 Belarusian Self-Help Fund was set up in Poland. The aim of this organisation is to help Belarusian people, primarily all those who live in Poland, in various unexpected situations. Some may say that Poland does not suffer from lack of Polish organisations that take care for refugees rights and this is true. However, they take care of all refugees: Vietnamese, Africans, and many others. Migrant devotes much time to Catholics, immigrants from Vietnam. Klon/Jawor Association always gives information and answer the questions concerning different organisations in Poland. Organisations that cope with Belarusian s problems are situated in Bialystok, but in Warsaw there are none of them. Here, you can find mainly youth organisations, which operate in the student environment. We do not want to criticise anybody it s obvious that you cannot make a mistake if you do nothing. We also have to admit that there are entities of public utility such as Polish Humanitarian Organisation, where refugees will always find widespread help: in learning Polish, in finding a job. It s enough to take up something and you can start integrating in Polish society. Our fund will willingly join those more experienced and acquainted with the world. Those who would like to cooperate with us, are invited to contact us. Franciszek Awdziej President of the Fund s Board tel CONTEST Editorial staff of Refugee.pl invites you to participate in the second edition of the writing contest. In the least year edition we awarded eight main prizes and eight honourable prizes. The award ceremony along with a film show was held in the cinema Muranów. This year we would like you to share with us your reflections on one of the following subjects: There will be a year 2017 in 10 years time. How will the world look like then? Where will you and your family be /live then? How do you imagine your life in 10 years time? We are keen to know how you find polish reality you live in. What has surprised you after your arrival in Poland? Describe such a surprising situation you have faced. The next subject may be especially for Ladies, but not only: Imagine your home. We know it is not easy... To make it more complicated, imagine your home is somewhere in Poland. Choose the location, decide if it is a village or a city Than invite some guests to your new home. Who are you going invite to? What are you going to prepare? Are you going to sing, tell the jokes or talk about politics? Than describe this party. Your essays will allow us to learn more about your dreams, plans as well as to see Poland by your eyes. The jury will assess the received works and the best one will be awarded*. Stake of prize money amounts at PLN. The jury will divide it among winners. Conditions of the participation: The works mustn t have been publicized before. The works must be signed by the author (name and surname must be given); the home address and/or contact phone must be enclosed. The authors who want to be anonymous shall mention it in the work and sign using a nickname. The text written in Polish, English, French or Russian will be accepted. The work shall be have from two to five pages of a typescript ( signs all together including spaces). The works shall be sent by 30th September All awarded works will be publicized on the website The works (hard copies or soft copies) shall be sent to the following mail address: Polska Akcja Humanitarna Centrum Pomocy Uchodźcom ul. Szpitalna 5/18, Warszawa with the postscript: JOURNALIST CONTEST / KONKURS DZIENNIKARSKI or to the address: *All winners will be awarded certificates and prize money or object prizes. Prize money can only be awarded to persons with legalized stay, therefore all the others will receive the object prizes.
4 4 Closer to Schengen Ewa Pintera Gianluca Bartalucci Amnesty, an obligatory path to follow? As of May the 1st, 2008 Poland joins the Schengen Agreement, which allows for the abolition of checks of people crossing the border between the countries of the European Union being the parties to the agreement. What does the freedom of traveling mean for refugees? We are discussing the consequences of joining the agreement with Agnieszka Gutkowska from Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (Legal Intervention Association). What does accession to the Schengen agreement mean in practice for refugees and persons with tolerated status? The Schengen accession entails free flow of people without the border checks, so mainly people with tolerated status, who could not travel before, will feel the difference now. For a person with the refugee status it means that so far they could stay abroad without visa up to 3 months and after this time they had to apply for it. It is possible that they will not have to do it now. Consequently, the illegal trucks crossing to Germany through the green border will stop, and on the other hand, the east border of Poland, which is going to be the border of European Union, will be more secured and as a result the number of illegal border crossing will decrease. What will the situation concerning work permit, health insurance and other social benefits look like? Will all the documents that a refugee acquires in Poland, be valid in all countries acceding to the Schengen agreement? No, all benefits and work permit will be valid only in countries where they were given. Schengen provides them only with the possibility of free traveling, so if they go to another European country, they will be able to work only illegally and they will not receive any benefits. As far as the educational system is concerned, each country has different provisions regarding the education duty. The fundamental advantage that arises from this change is that many refugee families separated for years, scattered in different countries, will finally be able to meet. Do you think that a huge number of people will leave in January? Absolutely, but it s hard to predict what they will do later. Some of them will reach their families in the West and will stay there, thanks to help of their relatives. Many families will leave in search for better economic conditions, taking a risk of illegal work. They will try to settle down in the West without having any social benefits. However, they should take into consideration that despite better earnings, cost of living in the West is much bigger, and in case of any health problems, without health benefits, a person will have to pay for the medical services, which are very expensive. What is more, this is illegal work whatsoever, which is always risky. Another possibility is that a family member will go abroad and then he or she will send gained money back to a family. However, it should be emphasized that Poland is the country whose culture and language are more familiar to refugees from Chechenia, that is why leaving to Germany may be a difficult challenge for them. Although Poland is not so well economically developed as the West, there are many aspects in favor of staying here. Apart from legal work and social benefits, which are the most important, cost of living here is much cheaper and various integrity programs are offered to refugees. We suppose, it is curiosity that will make people leave to see what this ideal West is like, if it is really possible to settle down there. We are not able to say, how many of them will come back. Schengen Agrement Schengen Agrement was originally signed on 14 June 1985 in Schengen in Luxemburg. The agreement brings about the abolition of checks at common borders of EU states and it strengthens the safety and asylum policy cooperation. The states that are to enter the Schengen Agreement from 2008 are nine new EU members (without Cyprus) and Switzerland, a non-eu member. Currently, the Schengen area includes the old states (except for Great Britain and Ireland), Norway and Island which belong to the European Economic Area. Enlargement of Schengen area with the new states will begin from abolition of checks at common borders, both see and overland, since 1st January Checks on borders on the airports in the new EU states for the citizens traveling within the Schengen zone are planned to be removed in March 2008 at the latest. It s a fact, no doubts about it, that in the last decades millions of immigrants have reached new lands in search of a better way of living, for political or economical reasons. Another uncontestable reality is that a quite great amount of these migrants usually passes the borders in a way, usually the only one they have, that s not exactly legal. When they finally find sanctuary, they keep themselves away from the law and survive thanks to the black work market. Sometimes this state of things goes on for much time, even creating some social and political troubles, until the idea of seriously facing the thing suddenly gains ground, dividing in two adverse factions politics, politicians and public opinion. The huge flow of illegal immigrants can t continue forever, this is the only point on which everybody, more or less, can agree. The contrasts begin when it s time to make a choice. To accept them or not, this is the question. Actually, it s basically about economics matters, much more than one could think. For plenty of reasons. Amnesty or deportation, this is the real question. To decide to make an amnesty, to suddenly legalize the presence of illegal immigrants, could be one of the most unpopular and hard decision a politician could ever take. Unpopular but, logically, sometimes very opportune and rational. In fact, if you think about it for awhile, which are the alternatives to letting illegals stay? Deporting millions of people? Devising other terrible punishments? Doing nothing at all? Amnesty, we d say, it s a practical way of thinking. Practical, yes, because illegal immigrants are everywhere. Most of them work hard. They arrived to make improved futures for themselves and their families. They have put down roots and have become, slowly, essential. They re hidden somewhere out there and they don t have so many rights or possibilities, but they re now fundamental for the delicate devices of our society s engine. In fact, a vast unseen army of illegal immigrants ensures that each day thousands of offices and homes are cleaned, streets are swept, drinks are served, children are in safe hands while they re parents are away for business trips, the elders are looked after and cleaned, and millions of vegetables are picked up, in infinite fields and under hell s sun, for make our tables richer and richer. Even though they re not officially recognized, they re for sure an important part of the society. To admit the existence of this new useful organ or to not admit it, pretending nothing s happening, this could be a different way to introduce the question. It all generates such a furious debates in each of those nations which every year receive, willy-nilly, a lot of illegal immigrants. People which say no to this kind of procedure have their own reasons, obviously. First of all, they believe it is wrong in principle to reward illegal behavior, to give a prize to people which have done something against the law and, moreover, another of their thoughts is that amnesty would be unfair to those waiting in line to be recognized legally. Then, they affirm that amnesties have according to them failed in other countries and are strongly contrasted, for instance, by the French and German governments. In the past 20 years Italy has done five amnesties and Spain six. They say the only conse-
5 Photo Agnieszka Kunicka quence have been growing numbers of applicants and bigger pressure on the borders: their belief is that this sort of amnesty can only encourage illegal migrants to move from their homeland to the richer countries, not more than that. They suppose it could push people to behave unlawfully, again and again. On the other hand, people which say yes to amnesty, people which think it could be not only moral but also advantageous, have a lot of arguments on their side as well. The most important are about helping other human people which effort to survive and to live in a better way. Everyone needs an ID, it should be one of the most important human rights. Illegal immigrants don t have it and this push them to go through pain and humiliation, often feeling like they re not persons at all. They need passports to see a doctor or to go to the hospital, for example, and can t attempt to go for higher education due to no proof of ID. Amnesty could help these people to ride over all these obstacles. And not only this. It could even be an economical deal, as we re about to see. One year ago, the Independent published a study of the Institute for Public Policy Research, a study about the possible profits an amnesty could bring to the British country. This survey strikingly shows that by giving the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in Britain a guarantee that they won t be deported, about 1 bn a year would be gained in taxes. To push them back to their homelands, instead, would cost something like 4.7 bn. It s just one example to show that deportation, evidently, it s not the most perfect deal one could make. It s only a general rule, of course, but it could be applied also elsewhere. We ve mentioned Italy (amnesties in 1987, 1990, 1996, 1998 and 2002, for a total of 1.5 million of legalized immigrants) and Spain (1985, 1991, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2005, 1.2 million), but most of western countries have decided, in their recent history, to make an amnesty for the illegal immigrants with no criminal backgrounds - which work and live within their borders. USA have already steered towards amnesty for seven times in the past, first time in 1986, and in the last weeks Bush talked about a new possible one successively killed by the United States Senate a comprehensive immigration reform that would have been legalized more than 12 million Among the people crossing the border, there are few refugees on the picture refugees from Chechenya. of illegal working foreigners, especially Mexicans. The Dutch parliament has recently granted amnesty to more than 30,000 refugees. This bill allows all asylum-seekers who arrived in Holland before April 2001 to remain in the country, with permission. Also countries like Greece and Portugal have periodically legalized their illegal immigrants. Malaysia has recently thought about a very particular amnesty much different from the others we ve spoken about authorizing illegal workers to depart from the nation without punishment after which anyone remaining could risk to be imprisoned. Does immigration amnesty work or not, this is the question. And the answer could be a little bit ambiguous. Each of the two opponents, the well-disposed and the adverse to this special policy, try to interpret the results in their own way. From the European experience, reality suggests that granting an amnesty or not granting an amnesty gives the impression to make little difference to the number of coming migrants looking for work, legally or illegally (1). What it s certain is that s very hard for a modern, worldwide economy to completely isolate itself, especially when there is a highly-mobile labor force and demand for cheap Illegal immigrants avoid the contact also with non-governmental organization. They are afraid to confess that there are illegally however a lot of organization help them as well. job. So, perhaps the question wasn t the properest one to make. Amnesty could work or could not work at all, it depends on what one expects from it. If you think it can help people who live in dire straits to have a better life, it could work. If you think it can be a good economical deal for a country that can receive also much more taxes it works as well. A deportation would be, as we ve seen, very expensive for a country. If you think, instead, that amnesty can influence the migrants flow, it doesn t matter if it s in a positive or negative way, you can be seriously disappointed. So it depends on your expectations: amnesty works, if you expect it to improve some human beings life. Sometimes it could be enough. (1) What is abolition? It is a single reversal of criminal liability for committing a prohibited act by means of passing legislation prohibiting initiation of criminal proceedings related to this act or ordering its discontinuation. Abolition can be unconditional or conditional in such case punishment avoidance depends on fulfilling defined conditions. In case of migration abolition, an illegal stay in Poland constitutes a punishable act, and an Act which relieves an alien of consequences (i. e. deportation) if he/she meets defined requirements constitutes legislation. The word abolition has a different meaning as compared with amnesty. Amnesty refers to annulment of already adjudicated punishment (e.g. causes release of sentenced persons from prison). Owing to abolition, a certain crime on certain conditions does not result in punishment. AK Photo from the archive of PAH
6 6 Economic and social rights of asylum-seekers French Non-Governmental Organization called Forum of Refugees has published their annual report Asylum in France and Europe. The organization, established in 1982, is respected in Europe for objectivity. We present the main findings of the report. Freedom of relocation Almost in all European countries people applying for the status of a refugee cannot freely choose their place of residence. Regulations are restrictive, but to a different extent. For example in Greece restriction of relocation means that the asylum-seekers are obliged not to change their place of residence while the procedure is taking place. The most restrictive regulations are in Italy, Malta and Slovenia: the foreigners, who don t have their Identity Cards, are not allowed to change their place of residence while the procedure is taking place. Also in Great Britain the regulations are restrictive as the asylum-seekers are obliged to appear before the authorities regularly. Otherwise they might lose their entitlement to social security benefits. In Germany asylumseekers may travel freely within one designated land only. In Belgium, Greece or Slovakia only short term journeys are allowed. In Hungary, Romania and Poland asylum-seekers must make a request for a consent to travel within the territory of the country. Freedom of relocation is guaranteed only in Austria. However, persons who are subject to Dublin procedures are excluded. Conditions of admission European directives set certain standards concerning admission of asylum seekers, but not all countries carry them out in the same way. For example, centers in Holland and Malta are often overcrowded. In 2006 there were riots in Malta because of that problem. that the foreigners cover part of the costs themselves, if they have such funds. In some countries centers are cofinanced by NGOs (e. g. in Greece). Most countries assign the place of residence of asylumseekers (Poland is an example). There are countries which do not grant any financial help to people who do not live in assigned places and look for a place of residence on their own (e.g. Denmark). Some countries split families. This takes place in Germany when a given land does not have houses big enough for the whole family. Generally most countries (including Great Britain and Austria) try to place the asylum-seekers in different regions to make sure that they do not gather in one place. Right to work Asylum-seekers have the full right to work from the beginning of the asylum procedures in countries like Greece, Holland, Portugal and Romania. Other Member States restrict that right or do not grant it at all. Cyprus restricts the right to work for asylum-seekers to only few given sectors (such as agriculture). Many member states grant the right to work only after some time: three months in Finland, six months in Italy, nine months in Luxembourg and one year in Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Malta, Hungary, Germany and Poland. In Belgium the right to work is granted only after the first phase of considering the asylum application is completed (admissibility of the request). In France and Austria the right to work foreseen by the law is not applied in practice. Some Member States (such as Great Britain, Ireland, Denmark and Bulgaria) do not grant the right to work to those who apply for the refugee status. Belgium help is granted to the asylum-seekers also during the consideration of the appeal, in other countries this help ceases when the body of first instance gives a negative decision. In Germany the amount of financial help given to asylum-seekers constitutes only 70% of financial help given to German citizens who are in similar situation. This is justified by the fact that asylum-seekers already receive other financial help (such as shelter or food). Some countries, such as Great Britain or Malta provide only financial help (shelter and food). In Greece or Slovenia there is no public assistance for asylum-seekers. Access to medical care In all EU countries asylum-seekers have access to free medical care, including help in emergencies (in Germany and Denmark they are entitled only to help in emergencies). Some countries created specialized medical units operating within the first center of admission which is compulsory for all asylum-seekers (this system operates in Poland and Austria). Education In all EU countries children of asylum-seekers are entitled to free education at primary school. Extra costs (canteen or textbooks) are not provided in all countries. Asylum-seekers are not entitled to scholarships for higher education (they usually have to pay to be able to study). In Slovenia only primary school is for free. For other schools foreigners have to pay fees. Vocational training In Europe vocational training is usually provided for by Non-Governmental Organizations and not by the state. This situation takes place in Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal and Greece. In Slovakia and Ireland there are free classes in centers for refugees. In some centers in Austria you have to pay for these classes. Some countries allow for vocational training, but on certain conditions. For example, in Denmark the right to attend such classes depends on the progress in the asylum procedure, while in Ireland people are allowed to take part in those classes only after a year of such procedure. In most of the EU Member States assistance for asylum seekers is funded from the state s budget. However, there are exceptions. In Slovakia the authorities may request Financial help Most European countries provide financial help to the asylum seekers; the sums vary in different countries. In Translated by Katarzyna Biernacka Photo from the archive of SIP Poland: Education about refugees In September educational programs not only for refugees, but also about refugees are launched in Poland. In autumn Association of Legal Intervention (SIP) will conduct a training for teachers in Polish schools about methods of teaching about refugees. They will also run for the second time in a row a series of multicultural activities in Polish nursery schools. Lessons are combined with visits of small refugees from Chechnya which is a good way to teach Chechen and Polish children tolerance and understanding for differences among them. SIP invites teachers and schools to establish contact you can still apply to take part in trainings. In October SIP will organize a photo exhibition presenting refugees in Poland. Display entitled The Way will show the everyday life of refugees, how they work and relax. Exhibition presents also stories of people who find shelter in Poland. Also in October, SIP is planning to publish Cultural guidebook. The book will explain refuge phenomenon, legal situations and living conditions in countries that they arrive in. More information: Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej (SIP) al. 3 Maja 12/510, Warszawa, (022)
7 There is a job but of what kind? Marta Kucharska During the last few months many job offers appeared in Poland refugees and people applying for the refugee status are simply head-hunted. But be careful! Not everyone is entitled to work legally. Those who are entitled should make use of this entitlement a legal job, despite lower wages, gives security, the possibility of free health care, provision for the old age and other important benefits. In Poland the right to work have recognized refugees persons with a tolerated residence persons applying for refugee status, when (unintentionally) they have to wait over one year for the statutory decision of first instance How to take up job legally: Refugees and those with tolerated residence do not need any additional documents in order to look for a legal job. When they possess the Refugee Travel Documents (according to Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951) or a residence card they can turn either straight to the employers or to the job office, which helps to find job. A foreigner signs down an employment contract this is an important document which should be kept for the future. The foreigner who awaits a refugee status longer that one year must obtain a document certifying his or her entitlement to the job in the Office for Foreigners. The foreigner can apply with this document (and with an id) to the employers or to the Job Office. Be careful! The right to work for the applying for the status has been introduced lately not all Job Offices are informed about this regulation. In case of difficulties the foreigners can ask for the confirmation of this right the non-governmental organizations (see list of contacts, page 7) or the Office for Foreigners. When looking for a legal job Refugees and persons with a tolerated residence can register at the Job Office as job seekers. This entitles them with the insurance (such insurance can also cover a family: a wife, a husband and children). A person who takes up a legal job (with a contract) will be asked to report this fact at the Job Office (then the Office will no longer search for the job for such a person). A legal job, even worse paid, gives important benefits: It helps to find another better paid job the employers value previous experience (this means that the employee has previously performed well and learned about the European rules of working), The legal job is included into work experience and the employer pays pension contributions (thanks to this the employees earn for they pension when they do not work anymore, the state pays so called pension every month), The employer provides health, sickness and accident insurance. In case of occurence the employee is provided with help and care, because he or she has an insurance (e.g. in case of an accident on a building site the employee has a free access to the health care, it is also possible to cover the whole family with the insurance, which means a free medical care for a husband, a wife and children), Thanks to the employment contract the amployee can prove to be employed this entitles him or her to open a bank account, to take a bank loan or to buy goods on hire purchase. Illegal job (without signing down a contract) is risky: The employer may treat the employee like cheap labour force and dismiss him or her any time or fail on paying the due remuneration. It is easy to cheat an illegal worker because he or she is unable to prove (e.g. before court) to be employed. Illegal work is not included into work experience, as the employer doesn not pay the obligatory pension contributions (the employee is not secured for the future, he or she cannot expect to be paid pension), The employee is not insured. If anything happens at the work place, in case of an accident or sickness, the employee must pay for the treatment by himself. International Organisations»UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Warszawa , al. Róż 2 tel. (022) , »International Organization for Migration (IOM) Warszawa , ul. Mariensztat 8 tel. (022) Non-governmental Organizations Social assistance»polish Humanitarian Organization Counseling Center for Refugees Warszawa , ul. Szpitalna 5/18 tel. (022) »A-venir Foundation Lublin , ul. Wojciechowska 7J tel. (081) /88 Białystok , ul. Warszawska 43/302 tel. (085) »Caritas Warsaw Warszawa , ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62 tel. (022) »Caritas Białystok Białystok , ul. Warszawska 32 tel./fax (085) »Caritas Lublin Lublin , ul. Prymasa Stefana Wyszyńskiego 2 tel. (081) »Caritas Zgorzelec Zgorzelec , ul. Księdza Domańskiego 12 tel. (075) »Polish Red Cross Warszawa , ul. Mokotowska 14 tel. (022) , fax Psychological assistance»caritas Warsaw Warszawa , ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62 tel. (022) Legal assistance»halina Niec Legal Assistance Center Kraków , ul. Sobieskiego 7/3 tel./fax (012) Warszawa, ul. Chełmska 31/7 tel. (022) »Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights Warszawa , ul. Zgoda 11 Dział Uchodźców: tel. (022) Organizations H E L P I N G R E F U G E E S Letters to editorial office We would like to thank all readers for a warm welcome of refugee.pl magazine. Our aim is to write about issues which are most important to you, to help solve everyday refugee s problems and difficulties, to help understand living conditions in Poland. We are inviting all readers to contact us: refugees, aliens with different legal status, Polish people interested in refugees issues. We are open to your questions and ideas concerning texts. We put them into practice within bounds of our possibility: in this issue, on our readers special request, an article about the entry to the Schengen area has been published. We are waiting for your next suggestions! You can call us, send a letter or an . You can find the editorial office address in the last page.»association for Legal Intervention (SIP) Warszawa , al. 3 Maja 12 lok. 510 tel. (022) »Human Rights Center at the Jagiellonian University's Legal Clinic Kraków , Plac Inwalidów 4 tel./fax (012) »Legal Clinic Faculty of Law at Warsaw University Warszawa , ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28 tel. (022) , tel./fax »Caritas Warsaw Warszawa , ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 62 tel. (022)
8 Refugee Counseling Center (CPU) organizes useful courses on different subjects: Polish courses, English courses and computer courses. Classes are planed in convenient hours for refugees and teachers. Enrolment until the end of August. Groups come into being depending on number of people. In youth-club in Linin workshops are available on sewing and hairdressing whereas in youth-club in Warsaw there are being organized culinary workshops. more information: Center of Helping Refugee, PAH, Szpitalna street 5/3 phone (022) Photo Jolanta Binicka Joanna Obiegałka Worth knowing what? Where? When? With the beginning of the school year there new courses, professional courses have begun for refugees and asylum seekers. We present short guide on actual offer. Professional and adaptional courses arranged and realized in Intercultural Center of Professional Adaptation in Warsaw University September 2007 hairdressing and culinar courses (for waiters, cookers and bartenders) October 2007 the advanced course of massage, bricklaying, the service of forkliftsoperating, computer course, rehabilitation course (those two in Konstanicin) November 2007 manicure and pedicure course Adaptation courses: September 2007 career planning (searching of the job, self-presentation) October December 2007 Małe Polonikum course of polish language and culture November 2007 basics of law: rights and duties of foreigners in Poland, rent of flat, starting of own business More information: Koszykowa street 60/62, Warsaw, phone (022) At the Warsaw Center of Helping Family as part of project IW EQUAL Intercultural Center Professional Adaptional the Refugee Club exists. Club is in Nowolipie street 25b and is opened 2 times in week in Mondays and Thursday between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The club is opened form1 p.m. 5 p.m. and refugees have an access to computer room(1 5 p.m.). The club offers English language courses for beginners and medium-advanced (3 4:30 p.m.) and coffee available. In club appointments with representatives of associations and institutions are organized and occasional parties in cooperation with participants are also organized. The Club s offer is dedicated to every foreigner who stays in Poland legally. In August a meeting is planed with representative of Center of Women Promotion, in October course on basics of Polish and economic activity. more information about terms of courses and appointments: Mrs. Agata Oleksy Warsaw Center of Helping Family, Rakowiecka Street 21, phone (022) , extension number 108. Photo Agnieszka Kunicka Photo Jolanta Binicka Migrant Center for September organizes Polish language course on different levels, also individual conversation. You must only want to learn. Hours are individual arrangement with the teacher. In Center there is a place to use an Internet access from Mondays to Saturdays between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Project, very popular in group of the youngest and theirs parents kindergarten Children of World, should start from September. More information ks. Jacek, Migrant Center Ostrobramska street 98, Warsaw, Go to Krzywickiego 34 In Warsaw, on Krzywickiego street 34 there is a place very often and freely frequented by refugees. It is an Association of Learning Foreign Languages Linguae Mundi, which provides free intensive courses of Polish language for refugees, as part of Provincial governor of Mazowsze project financed in part by EFS. Some choose courses in Association because of very nice and fantastic foreign language teachers, who are always helpful also when it comes to solving everyday problems (doctor appointment, office situations etc.). Others chose it because they want to learn Polish very fast. Some because of official, national exam taken in order to obtain a certificate. For another, the most important are bonuses : free tickets for communication, kindergarten, delicious meal or advertising T-shirts. For all, it is important that they can meet people with similar problems and that they can acquaint themselves with Polish language, culture and habits. One of the participants wrote: Always when I come to courses my state of mind is better. We talk a lot about how to celebrate a wedding in different cultures or another sacred celebration, or family relationship. At the beginning, Coordinator makes a short test for everyone to assign to an adequate group on an adequate level. He takes into consideration time possibilities some can learn only in Mondays evening and Saturdays (maybe it will be also on Sundays), what is very convenient for people who work. If you want to join us, call (022) and ask for information about Polish language courses for refugees (you will connected with Adam Brańko) or come to Krzywickiego street 34 between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. We wait for you! Editorial team s address: ul. Szpitalna 5/3, Warszawa Publisher: Polish Humanitarian Organization Chief editors: Agnieszka Kosowicz, Ewa Pintera Journalists: Gianluca Bartalucci, Anna Bartis, Agnieszka Gendek, Monika Kamińska, Agata Karpowicz, Paweł Kośmiński, Marta Kucharska, Agnieszka Kunicka, Joanna Obiegałka, Artur Siejka, Agnieszka Skoneczna, Agnieszka Szafrańska, Marzena Zera Photo Department: Agnieszka Kunicka Graphic project: Teresa Oleszczuk Photos: Agnieszka Kunicka, Jolanta Binicka, Ewa Pintera Translators: Katarzyna Biernacka, Michał Kieller, Anna Kołakowska This publication is produced thanks to voluntary contributions of journalists. We also invite you to internet portal dedicated to refugees, run by the volunteers as well: The project is co-funded by European Refugee Fund The sole responsibility for any comments or publications placed in this portal rest with their authors. European commission is not liable for the means of using the available information. The Refugee.pl magazine is also available on-line at