Nearly a quarter of a million zlotys was granted to the National Guards [Straż Narodowa], an association founded by Robert Bąkiewicz. However, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office had informed about the support for refugees provided by the association somewhat earlier.
On Friday, 8 April, the Office of the Polish Prime Minister announced that a number of organisations which will receive funding to help Ukrainian refugees had been identified. This action followed the announcement by Minister of Culture Piotr Glinski, who had stated on 21 March that “thanks to the decision of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, we have released the first tranche of emergency aid for refugees — i.e. million zlotys over approximately three months, by the end of June, to be distributed among organisations committed to assisting and supporting refugees”.
The list of organisations selected by the Ministry includes in total 130 such entities which will receive grants ranging from PLN 11 000 to PLN 500 000. The fact that the National Guards [Straż Narodowa], an association founded by Robert Bąkiewicz, which had been already subsidised with public money in the past, was among such selected organisations, has caused much discussion and controversy online.
The Open Dialogue Foundation reacted to this status quo by posting a comment on their Twitter account: “As one of the most experienced NGOs, we have also applied for funding from the Prime Minister’s Office. We did not get a penny. Meanwhile, a quarter of a million zlotys (top 10 out of 130!) was granted to an exceptionally committed Ukrainian supporter… Mr Bąkiewicz”. Bartosz Wielinski, a journalist at Gazeta Wyborcza, who reposted this tweet, also asked: “Hi there, Mr Dworczyk, how come Mr Bąkiewicz got a quarter of a million to help Ukrainian refugees? How is he going to help them?”
However, Mr Bąkiewicz’s association has obtained even more funds to help refugees.
More than a quarter of a million for “humanitarian aid”
According to the information posted on the government’s website, the purpose of the funding for selected NGOs “is to reduce the effects of the humanitarian crisis caused by the mass influx of refugees from Ukraine to Poland and to support the activities of organisations aimed at effectively providing assistance to individuals and families in need, as well as to coordinate support in this regard”.
The National Guards will receive PLN 264 thousand to implement their project titled: “humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian citizens affected by the armed conflict”. This will be the 15th highest grant among all organisations.
The highest grant — half a million zlotys — will go to the Amico Foundation for its project: “Straight from the Heart “. Meanwhile, the lowest amount – PLN 11.2 thousand — will go to Caritas Diocese of Łomża for the project “BT Team — Better Together” — i.e. support for voluntary workers in Ukraine and Poland. In total, the Government will allocate PLN 19.6 million to support 130 organisations, which is nearly twice as much as envisaged by Deputy Minister Piotr Gliński.
This has not been the first government funding for the National Guards intended to help refugees. Just a little earlier, the National Institute for Freedom, which distributes grants to NGOs, provided the Association with the amount PLN 10,000 under the “Civic Organisations Development Programme 2018-2030”. Also at that time, the title of the project was generally: “An Assistance for War Refugees”.
Mr Bąkiewicz on helping refugees
Robert Bąkiewicz frequently reports on social media about the National Guard’s ongoing refugee support activities. On 26 February i.e. the third day of Russian aggression against Ukraine, he tweeted that “on behalf of the National Guard Association and the Independence March Squad [Rota Marszu Niepodległości], I would like to inform you that we are signing up to receive war refugees from Ukraine. Women and children will be offered accommodation in our organisation’s centre in Otwock. We can provide accommodation for 25-40 people”. On 6 March, he announced that members of the association also prepared some facilities for women and children at the border crossing in Zosin.
Meanwhile, on 28 March, Piotr Mazurek, Secretary of State at the PM’s Office and Government Commissioner for Youth Policy, stated on his Twitter that “dozens of refugees from Ukraine are currently staying in the ‘famous’ centre purchased by the national circles with a grant from the Institute of Legacy of Polish National Thought’s Patriotic Fund, and more of them are still expected. Overall, 55 people fleeing Russian bombs will find a shelter there”.
Deputy Minister Mazurek’s tweet appeared after Deputy Prime Minister, Piotr Glinski, announced on 21 March that the government released the first tranche of PLN 10 million of aid for refugees. In reference to Mr Gliński’s announcement, we asked the Prime Minister’s Office twice — on 22 and 24 March — which organisations had received such funding, in what amount and for which projects. We have not received any answer on their part, but on 8 April, the list of selected organisations was published on the government’s website.