Credit: WikimediaCommons/Ukrainian refugees crossing into Poland/Міністерство внутрішніх справ України


The first military offensive of Russian troops in Ukraine took place on the night of 23-24 February 2022. This attack was later considered a violation of the integrity of the territory and sovereignty of Ukraine by the UN.

More than six and a half million people have fled Ukraine since the war began. Of these millions, 3,627,178 have fled to Poland, leaving behind their homes, families and jobs. It is also important to note that according to the UNCHR 96% of Ukrainian refugees in Poland are women and children. These refugees can no longer practice their original profession, notably because of the language barrier, and suffer from downgrading

Data collected by UNHCR on May 23rd 2022

Poland is in the first line for welcoming Ukrainian refugees.

Since the beginning of the war, UNHCR estimates that over 3,5 million refugees have moved into Poland and need protection and support.

UniRef has created a department dedicated to Ukrainian refugees in Poland. This new team is made up of culture and polish language specialists.

They have collected information from local partners such as NGOs, organizations, and academics. We also have surveyed refugees to understand their most pressing education needs.

It appears that many Ukrainian refugees already have degrees and job experience.
However qualified Ukrainian women can’t practice in Poland due to their lack of good polish knowledge.

For the same reason, young adults are excluded from university because of language.

The present mission of UniRef in Poland aims to provide free access to a language course.

UniRef in Poland

Aware of the situation from the very beginning, UniRef has developed in Poland by setting up in Krakow ( Little Poland). Faithful to its mission, UniRef launched a feasibility study with the help of Polish associations involved in the reception of refugees and university professors to better assess the needs of the Ukrainian refugee population ( mainly composed of women and children) in the Krakow region. 

With the mission to make young refugees autonomous so that they can find decent employment in their host country by enabling them to have access to further education through tailor-made vocational training, UniRef decided to address the issue of language barrier by teaching medical polish to Ukrainian refugees working in the medical field, so that they can return to their initial professional activity. Your support is therefore essential for our mission to develop and be sustainable.

The issue around medical studies in Poland

Many of the Ukrainian refugees who are coming to Poland have experience in healthcare fields such as nursing, medicine, and dentistry. However, many are not fluent in Polish, which could pose a problem when it comes to communicating with patients and colleagues in the medical field. In addition, medical terminology can be complex and difficult to understand even for those who are fluent in the language.

Addressing the language barrier is essential to ensure that Ukrainian refugees who are seeking medical training in Poland are able to fully integrate into the medical profession and provide quality care to patients. Qualifications acquired would assist them in shaping their own future and contributing to the economic and cultural development of their region. We strongly believe that every refugee should have an opportunity to maintain their professional status in their host country, which requires acquiring the necessary linguistic skills.

UniRef's partnership with Zawsze Warto

At UniRef, we have extended our efforts in the Polish mission to support refugees who have finished their training but cannot pursue their profession due to language challenges. To achieve this, we have set ourselves the task to create Polish language courses that focus on medical vocabulary. Our primary objective is to help them integrate into the local labor market by overcoming language barriers.
The courses are organized by Fundacja Zawsze Warto, which is dedicated to the social integration of newly arrived individuals in Poland. They provide language courses for both beginner and advanced groups, for adults and children (students), and also specialized courses for medical staff, teachers, and other professionals. In addition, they facilitate community integration through activities that enable newcomers to learn about the city, Polish culture, art, and customs.

The partnership already allowed the creation of a class of 13 Ukrainian professionals from the medical field for a 4-month cycle and aims to implement several other cycles focused on the same topic.

The role of the UniRef team in Krakow

Apart from the collaboration with the Fundacja Zawsze Warto, our team in Krakow is involved in different humanitarian missions and has as a task to organize different activities for the integration of Ukrainian refugees in Poland.
Apart from the classes, UniRef has set itself the mission to help in professional inclusion by doing the relay between the refugees studying in the classes and the jobs available in order to propose proper professional inclusion.

See the our team section to learn more about our project coordinators based on the field.

UniRef believes that language training is a key factor for integrating refugees into their host countries.

The Polish government continues to prioritize policies in favour of refugees. But the situation is not improving and refugees need a sustainable income in the short-term. 

UniRef collaborates with its local partners to offer solution adapted to individual situations.

Credit Katie Godowsky/Pexels