Poland to set up $1.75 billion fund to assist Ukrainian refugees

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WARSAW, March 7 (Reuters) - The Polish government passed a draft bill to create an 8 billion zloty ($1.75 billion) fund to help war refugees from Ukraine.

The United Nations estimates more than 1.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia attacked its neighbour on Feb. 24. read more

More than 1 million have crossed the border into Poland. Many thousands have been hosted across the country, but the aid effort has been predominantly shouldered by non-governmental organizations, volunteers and municipalities.

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The legislation aims to allow the funding of food and temporary lodgings for refugees, along with measures allowing them to legally work and access public healthcare and social assistance in Poland.

"Our initial assumption is that the fund we will set up will amount to about 8 billion zloty. That will finance the most urgent supplies and lodging but also the access to the labour market, social benefits and education," Minister Lukasz Schreiber told private broadcaster Radio Plus earlier on Monday.

The bill, which would also provide a 300 zloty one-off benefit for each refugee and financial assistance for Poles hosting Ukrainians, was set to be approved by the Polish parliament on Tuesday in a fast track legislative procedure. A family hosting refuges from Ukraine will be able to receive up to 1,200 zloty each month for a period of two months.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland could count on financial assistance from abroad to compensate for funds Warsaw was earmarking for the refugees.

"This bill is above all meant to offer some sort of a substitute of a normal life for all those people that came to Poland," Morawiecki told reporters after the passage of the bill by his Cabinet.

($1 = 4.5793 zlotys)

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Reporting by Marek Strzelecki, Anna Koper and Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Alex Richardson and Paul Simao

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