The refugee crisis and related organizational adjustments are the major challenges faced by Poland, according to DWF Country Managing Partner Michal Pawlowski."Times are extremely challenging and turbulent," Pawlowski begins. "The COVID-19-related situation was finally becoming normalized, after different strains, restrictions, and vaccination-related public discourse. However, since late February, we are facing an even more extreme situation, that is, the Russian invasion in Ukraine."
"The war has resulted in the biggest refugee crisis post World War II, with millions of innocent people forced to flee their country," he explains. "After 47 days of the war, we already had 2.5 million refugees in Poland, with some of them transiting to other countries. Looking at the numbers, we see that, only in Warsaw, there are 20% more inhabitants compared to the past."
"This has created a big challenge for cities as well," Pawlowski adds. "Accommodating several million people required not only providing apartments to live in but overcoming a number of organizational challenges. For instance, we had to adapt schooling systems very quickly, to make sure that children are receiving an adequate education, and hire Ukrainian teachers for that purpose."
According to Pawlowski, the challenges are being faced together. "The overall atmosphere in the country is quite unified as, while Poland is heavily affected by the ongoing events, we are still extremely privileged to not be experiencing war atrocities. This has to remain as the number one topic, and we should never normalize what’s happening in Ukraine," he says.
"I know a good number of lawyers who are engaged, from the very beginning of the war in Ukraine, in a number of initiatives to support refugees," Pawlowski points out. "We help in various ways, from offering accommodation in our homes, through assistance with onward travel to western countries, purchase of medical kits and bandages, legal assistance with legalizing their stay in Poland, to provisional, financial, and pro bono legal support."
"It is also interesting to see how these exceptional circumstances are affecting businesses," Pawlowski notes. "Right now, whereas they impact our living hood materially, they have not had any negative impact on our business and performance indicators. We have been growing significantly and profitably during the pandemic and continue stable growth even now." According to him, sectors such as renewable energy and real estate remain very active. "I expect that the market will keep growing in the coming months, and there won’t be a particular slowdown either in Poland or the CEE."