Joanna Fomina

Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

Degrees:Ph.D. (University of Warsaw), Doctor Habilis (University of Warsaw)
Office:Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

Dr. Joanna Fomina is a Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, where she received her Ph.D. (2010) and habilitation (2022) in social sciences. She is also a graduate of the Jagiellonian University, Krakow; and Humboldt University, Berlin. Her academic interests include migration and migrant integration policies in the EU, including migrants’ civic and political participation, EU integration, Euroscepticism and populism, and democratization processes in Central and Eastern Europe. Her most recent book Political Dissent and Democratic Remittances The Activities of Russian Migrants in Europe (Routledge, 2022) explores the activities of post-2011 Russian political emigrants to the EU states who voice political dissent after leaving their country. She also has extensive experience as a researcher and trainer on migration, human rights, and democratic norms and principles, having worked for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Batory Foundation, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Institute of Public Affairs and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

Panel 1: Forced Displacement Across Borders

Poland’s Responses to the Inflow of Ukrainian Refugees Fleeing the War


The paper analyses the Polish society’s responses to the arrival of several million Ukrainians fleeing the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. Poles have been almost unanimously supportive of receiving Ukrainian refugees (94% in April 2022) and assisting them, and up to 70% of Poles claim engagement in some form of assistance. Apart from various forms of help provided by already existing civil society organizations, Ukrainian refugees received support from a number of newly sprung-up informal initiatives and unaffiliated volunteers. Poles have privately spent an estimated 9-10 billion PLN/2.7 billion CAD (0.34-0.38% of Poland’s GDP) on helping Ukrainian refugees. This unprecedented immediate societal support has also shaped the Polish government responses to the arrival of such a large number of refugees from Ukraine. However, these official and public responses need to be analysed in the broader context of old anti-Ukrainian and anti-refugee prejudices in Polish society, heralds of which are already present in the public discourse and which might flare up after assistance fatigue sets in. Just before the war 25% of Poles had a negative attitude towards Ukrainians. In September 2022, 30% of Poles already claimed that the assistance to Ukrainians provided by Poland is too much. The hateful discourses on social media fall into two main categories: (1) negative stereotyping related to the existing historical policy consisting of assigning them radical anti-Polish nationalism; (2) disinformation regarding the economic dimension of the migration of refugees and refugees from Ukraine, in particular regarding: their alleged privileges and entitlement; their impact on the deterioration of the socio-economic situation of Polish women and Poles by, for example, overburdening the social support system, taking work away, dominating public space, etc. The incumbent government, while generally having a strongly pro-Ukraine stance in response to the war and supportive of Ukrainian refugees, is known for successfully exploiting anti-refugee themes and historical Polish-Ukrainian tensions for political means.