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Warsaw wrath: Polish protesters urge end to support for Ukraine war, ‘Ukranization’ of Poland

Protesters hold a banner that reads "Stop the Ukrainization of Poland", in the capital, Warsaw, on April 26, 2023.

Thousands of protesters in Poland have taken part in rallies to oppose their government’s sponsorship of Ukrainian refugees and demanding an immediate halt to funding them at the expense of the country’s taxpayers.

Marching on the streets of the capital Warsaw and chanting, "Stop the Ukrainization of Poland!"on Wednesday, the protesting crowd called for an end to the war, urging the the US-allied government to immediately stop "sponsoring" Ukrainian refugees using the taxpayer money.

The slogan was coined by figures from the far-right political party — the nationalist Confederation (Konfederacja) — who insist that Ukrainian refugees have been offered “privileges” not granted to Polish nationals.

This is while Poland has become the primary destination for people fleeing the raging conflict in Ukraine since it began in February 2022.

Over eight million Ukrainian refugees have so far entered Poland since the onset of the Ukraine-Russia war last year, but nearly 1.5 million of them have remained in the central European country amid the continent’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

When Ukrainians began to arrive in Poland in big numbers, the government signed into law the so-called Act on Assistance to Ukrainian Citizens, which offers Ukrainian refugees benefits -- including the right to live in Poland, work legally and receive many governmental benefits available to local Poles, such as free health care.

The Polish government has long been accused of pursuing a policy [to support the Ukrainian refugees] beyond the financial capacity of the Polish citizens.

The protesters pointed to the surging prices of housing and the costs of providing benefits to Ukrainians.

Like other European countries, Poland has faced soaring inflation and energy prices due to the war in Ukraine.

In December, energy prices were nearly 37 percent higher than a year earlier.

As to housing shortages, which Poland had been facing even prior to the inflow of Ukrainians, reports said in December that the country would need at least 200,000 new apartments and probably even more dwellings to specifically house refugees from Ukraine.

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