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A Polish high school in Zamosc has been transformed into a temporary safe haven for up to 2,000 Ukrainian refugees each day.

Volunteers transform Polish high school into Ukrainian refugee shelter

Mar 16, 2022


ZAMOSC, Poland — A high school in Poland has been allowing volunteers to run a shelter for fleeing Ukrainians. The school has been functioning as a temporary safe haven for up to 2,000 people per day.

Some refugees have arrived just for a nap or a meal, stopping for no more than two days before moving on to another destination. The small town of Zamosc has a population of 60,000, but like many other cities across Poland, it has been transformed into a refugee hub.

The school has no plans to return to session. The school uses its two large gyms as a space for visitors to sleep throughout the day and two smaller rooms as a nursery for children.

The entire operation is run by volunteers who are taking time off from their full-time jobs, with some acting as translators. Locals have been visiting the school to drop off supplies. One of the biggest needs has been juice boxes because so many children have been passing through the shelter.

The impulse in Zamosc to offer refuge is partly due to its history as a place that has known the cost of oppression. Some 12,000 people Jews constitute nearly half of its pre-war population. During occupation first by the Soviets and then the Nazis, most were sent to the ghetto and then to concentration camps. A monument to the tragedy made from the headstones in the town’s old Jewish cemetery stands on the outskirts.

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