Human Constanta calls upon the Belarusian authorities to abandon the practice of using migrants as an instrument of political pressure on the countries of the European Union (hereinafter the EU) and urges Poland to respect human rights and international protection standards.
On 8 November 2021, large groups of transit refugees arrived at the border crossing point on the Belarus-Poland border. According to media reports, Belarusian border guards did not allow migrants to the border crossing point itself but directed people to the forest near the border.
There is evidence that the Belarusian authorities are intentionally preventing migrants from formally approaching the Polish border service and requesting international protection from them, forcing people to break the law and cross the border into Poland in violation of the established procedure. This approach can lead to an escalation of the conflict at the border and casualties among migrants who were forced to leave their home countries.
We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop the practice of using transit refugees as an instrument of pressure on the EU countries, to comply with applicable human rights obligations, and not to provoke a humanitarian crisis among extremely vulnerable migrants.
We are also concerned about by Polish border officials’ refusals to accept oral and written applications for international protection and the practice of forcibly returning migrants from Polish territory to Belarusian territory. We recall that Poland, along with other states, has committed itself to respecting international standards of treating asylum-seekers and applicable human rights obligations. It means that Poland must accept applications for protection from migrants coming from the territory of Belarus and ensure that such applications are individually assessed in accordance with established procedures.
We call upon the authorities of Belarus and Poland to ensure that local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and missions of international organizations have access to people in the border area and on the border itself to provide them humanitarian, medical, and legal assistance.
We also recall that human rights violations, disregard for national laws and international standards, refusals to accept applications for protection and cases of expulsion of migrants to countries where they are in danger have been recorded. Belarus is not a safe country for people seeking protection.
We call upon the government of the Republic of Belarus, as well as the governments of Poland and the other Member States of the EU to:
- Ensure full respect for human rights, migrants’ and refugees’ rights;
- Abandon the practice of using migrants in vulnerable situations as an instrument of political pressure;
- Ensure access of international organizations and NGOs to migrants in need of humanitarian, medical, and legal assistance in the border area;
- Encourage international organizations and NGOs to use assistance programmes (first and foremost, those of humanitarian nature) for migrants and refugees in the border area.