Border with Belarus: Amnesty criticizes Poland for pushbacks

Status: October 29, 2021 3:54 p.m.

Amnesty International has called for the right to asylum procedures for people on the Polish-Belarusian border. The protection of the EU border should not lead to it being closed. Pushbacks are not acceptable.

The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) has sharply criticized the fact that refugees on the border with Belarus are being pushed back by Polish officials. Such pushbacks are contrary to international law and should not be accepted, explained asylum expert Franziska Vilmar from AI Germany. Rather, those seeking protection have the right to an asylum procedure “regardless of how they came to the European Union”.

The protection of the European external border should not lead to it being closed to refugees, said Vilmar. “That is why fences and walls or the demand to close the German-Polish border are not a solution.” The people who have been holding out in catastrophic conditions in the border area for weeks should finally be brought to the fore in the debate.

“The responsibility clearly lies in Minsk”

Amnesty had previously reported illegal pushbacks in the Polish-Belarusian border area. Poland is repeatedly pushing back those seeking protection at the EU’s external border trying to get into the European Union via Belarus. In response to EU sanctions, the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko declared in the spring that he would no longer stop migrants heading for the European Union. Poland – as well as Lithuania and Latvia – reacted by increasing the security of the border with Belarus.

The EU accuses Lukashenko of literally smuggling people from crisis areas. Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had described him as the “head of a state smuggling ring”. A spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office said that help must be given to the people at the border. At the same time, the need of refugees should not be used as a means of political pressure. “The responsibility for resolving this crisis clearly rests with Minsk,” she said, referring to the Belarusian government. Jordan says it has already blocked numerous charter flights with migrants to Belarus.

A spokeswoman for the German government said the government was behind the European Commission’s promise to financially support the EU states Poland, Latvia and Lithuania in protecting their borders.

Federal police reported almost 4,900 migrants in October

More and more refugees find their way to Germany on the new escape route. In the first four weeks of October, the federal police registered 4,889 migrants after unauthorized entry via Belarus and Poland. That was more than twice as many as in September. For the year as a whole, the Federal Police put the number of unauthorized entries on the Belarus route at 7,300.

The federal police on the German-Polish border has been exposed to high migratory pressure since August. “There are currently no signs of an easing of the situation,” said the authority.

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