Activists in Gdask last year, demonstrating their support of the citys welcome policy towards refugees. Photograph: Gallo Images/ Getty Images
The reality in Poland is that immigrants are invisible, and so are all the more exposed to peril and abuse. It is our responsibility as Polish people to build a safe environment for them; it is not the immigrants undertaking. And the best place to do that is at the grassroots, in the cities not through central government.
There are obligating statistical debates for Poland to accept refugees, including the countrys yawning death/ birth gap. The government last week stimulated the first payments of a promised new child grant, worth 500 zoty ( 85) per month. But experts say it is unlikely to reverse the demographic deficit.
Meanwhile, the prevailing position among conservatives in government and the influential church seems to be that integration and multiculturalism are a step on the road to sprawling ghettos and Islamic terrorism. Such initiatives are sometimes bundled in with abortion their entitlements and lesbian matrimony as indicators that Poland is being contaminated by west European moral decay.
The Law and Justice party has not explicitly told the EU it will go back on the previous governments pledge to take 7,600 refugees but it would clearly like to. In January, “ministers ” Beata Szydo said Poland would take only 400 people( out of the 7,600) this year. After the 22 March attacks in Brussels, she told Radio Superstacja: The previous government agreed that several thousand[ refugees] could come to Poland. I dont see the possibility of migrants coming to Poland at this time.
In Gdask, many people blame Adamowiczs Civic Platform party for the demise of the citys formerly huge shipyard, which has shed all but 1,000 of the 17,000 jobs it are available in 1980, when Wasa co-founded the Solidarity trades union there.
Adamowicz is the longest-serving mayor of a major Polish city. He was first opted as head of the municipal council in 1990 and has been re-elected ever since mayoral elections were introduced in 1998. But in December 2014, he had to fight a run-off for the first time: It was not exactly pleasant. It induced me believe people are looking for a fresh face.
Despite the countrys persisting mood of xenophobia, Adamowicz has established an alliance with the like-minded mayors of two southern Polish cities, Wrocaw and Wabrzych. In November 2015, after the governmental forces failed to condemn neo-Nazis who burnt the effigy of an Orthodox Jew at an anti-immigration rally in Wrocaw, the three mayors signed a four-point declaration of co-operation on openness and intercultural dialogue.
Adamowicz is aware that his pro-migration moves may expense him his undertaking, because of stupid, frightened people. But so be it, he says. Right now I feel like my citizens require me. I have two-and-a-half years left as mayor and that is enough time to change positions. It is important that influential people stand up for positive European values. We should take refugees. Poland is poor, but it is not as poor as Bulgaria or Romania.
Beyond arguing that the seaport of Gdask has had openness thrust upon it by geography, the 50 -year-old mayor asserts history has left the city naturally pluralistic.
We have a special DNA. Before 1945, everyone here spoke German. Gdask was Danzig, a Protestant outpost. Then those people were removed and replaced by others. My family received from Lithuania.
Gdask is used to upheaval and manages it well. Protest movements were born here in 1968, 1970 and 1976. In the spirit of freedom and liberty, Solidarity was born here in the 1980 s because a group of special people workers and intellectuals met and trusted each other. We have a problem with trust today.
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