Preparing for Refugee Exodus in Crisis: Poland Case Study

Preparing for Refugee Exodus in Crisis: Poland Case Study

Magdalena Denham (Sam Houston State University, USA) and Scott Vautrain (Memorial Hermann Hospital System, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3194-4.ch009


Using macro-, exo-, meso-, and micro-level framework for assessing interdependencies in crisis management system in Poland, this chapter addresses expansion of planning and preparedness to novel hazards and threats such as precipitated mass movements of populations due to environmental changes. The Ukrainian refugee crisis served as backdrop for Poland's crisis management system testing. Benefits of planning and preparedness for mass displacements highlighted (a) an emerging all-hazard approach to crisis management, (b) proactive threat identification and assessment, (c) issuance of acts, laws, and regulations based on novel threats, (d) comprehensive multi-jurisdictional exercises, and (e) increasing importance of mutual aid agreements.
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I once had a record of whale sounds, I swear I understood. It didn’t matter what world they were under, what language, what depth of water divided, the song went on and on. What I mean is: none of this is chaos. Immigration, cross the river, the blood of us. It goes like this: water, land, water, like a waltz. – From the Whale and the Waltz Inside of It by Ada Limón

The objective of this study was to determine whether and in what ways situating mass migration hazards and threats within a country’s domestic crisis management system could enhance resilience to address future migratory spikes. To that end, the chapter illustrates the integration of mass migration policy into the national framework of crisis management in the Republic of Poland. Using the conflict in Ukraine between 2013 and 2014, the authors analyzed planning and preparedness processes undertaken in Poland to face challenges of potential refugee exodus out of Ukraine across Shengen lines into European Union territory. Planning and preparedness processes are explored within the framework of domestic crisis management and at the intersection of macro-level, supranational structures.

Data were drawn from structured interviews conducted with officials from the Polish National Police (PNP) Office of Commander-on-Chief, Bureau of International Cooperation, and operational command responsible for operational planning for mass refugee exodus from Ukraine in 2014. To triangulate data (for example, Anfara, Brown, & Mangione, 2002), documents including news articles, governmental reports, legal acts, regulations, and after-action reports served as additional collection sources.

The Bronfenbrenner’s model (Bronfenbrenner, 1995) framed our study. The model proposes four subsystems (a) micro, (b) meso, (c) exo, and (d) macro, all of which comprise the overall ecological environment for human development. The micro-system can be described as set of relations between the entity and the environment in an immediate setting. Interactions and linkages immediately outside of proximate setting or community constitute the meso-system. Meso-system resides within wider cultural contexts represent an exo-system. Finally, larger global environment constitutes the layer called macro-system. Because understanding ecological interdependence means understanding relationships (Capra & Luisi, 2014), dividing research space into micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-systems is useful when examining organizational contexts; this is especially true within the domain of crisis management across domestic/internal, supranational, and human security arenas.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Shengen Zone: An agreement signed by 26 European countries that eliminated border controls and allowed free movement across all state members. The Schengen Zone was established in 1995.

Hazard and Threat Multipliers: Hazard refers to risk of insecurity from natural and technological sources that are unintentional; threat refers to risk of insecurity from intentional and criminal actions of humans. Hazard and threat multiplier is a condition that creates additional vulnerability for hazard or threat to become a larger risk.

Focusing Event: In emergency management focusing events refer to disasters that were so significant in their scope and breadth of disruption that they created high and widespread levels of public discontent. In turn, the discontent influenced political will as well as research and ultimately led to changes in policy and laws.

RABIT: Rapid Border Intervention Teams. Involves tactical resources requested from FRONTEX by member states and deployed in case of local/internal resources being overwhelmed. Approximately 500-600 border guard agents constitute “RABIT pool.”

Visegrad Group (V4): Originally a Triangle of Poland, Czech, and Slovak Federal Republic (respectively, later Czech Republic and Slovak Republic), and Hungary member states who entered in collaborative agreement in 1991 in Bucharest to support collaboration towards the integration of security systems in the aftermath of the break of the Soviet Union; its first mission was removal of Soviet occupying forces in territories of member states.

Unity of Command: Management principle suggesting that each individual who participates in a crisis operation reports to only one supervisor. This eliminates opportunity for conflicting orders, confusion, and redundancy of effort.

UNHCR: United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. The UNHCR was established by the United Nations in 1950 with the goal of providing aid to refugees who had fled their homes during World War II. Its functions were preceded by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in charge of displaced persons immediately after WWII.

Euro-Majdan: Ukrainian revolution started in Kiev at the Independence Square in November 2013 and ended by bloody riots in February 18-20, 2014. Ukraine’s destabilization in Kiev was a contributing factor to opportunist separatist movements in West Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

Acquis Communautaire: (From French shared acumen ) Involves all laws, treaties, rulings, and fundamental rights provisions of the European Union (EU) by which all member states must abide.

FRONTEX: Fronières Extérieures (from French external borders ). European Agency created in October 2005 for the management of operational cooperation at the external borders of the member states of the European Union.

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