More than 600 citizens have already signed a petition to move a refugee centre based in Ustronie near Łódź.Residents are afraid of refugees from Syria. Protesters did not listen to ministerial assurances that Syrians will not be placed at the centre.
About 80 foreigners live now at the Ustronie centre, mainly from Ukraine and Kazakhstan. As in all of the 12 Polish centres for foreigners, newcomers can find shelter, get food and a small allowance (50zł per month).
The foreigners at Ustronie are quite peaceful. Last year, from 150 police interventions in the local community only 5 concerned the centre, and they were marital disputes.
And although the centre has been running since nearly seven years, it has never had so many enemies. Residents have begun collecting signatures, demanding to move the centre to a different location. Why? Because – as the Ustronie mayor points out – they are simply afraid.
It’s too small a town to bring refugees here – says one of the residents.
All the fuss has surprised Ewa Piechota from the Office for Foreigners, responsible for the operation of the centres.
I must emphasise that refugees from the so-called relocation programme will not be directed to the centre by Zgierz – she explains.
The Office for Foreigners has already received a letter from Barbara Kaczmarek, mayor of Zgierz, with a request for the transfer of the centre. The mayor has sent the letter, though she does not quite believe in the sense of the whole initiative.
You know, I am to serve the residents. And if they wish to transfer the centre, I begin to work – she explains.
Centres, such as the one near Łódź, help foreigners find themselves in the Polish reality. Refugees can count on medical care, education for children and young people, or language classes. Workers of those centres also help (if such is the wish of foreigners) to return to their country, or with moving to another EU country.