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Migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border. Wojciech Wilk, president of the Polish Center for International Aid, about their situation

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Several dozen migrants, including from Iraq and Afghanistan, are wandering in Usnarz Górny on the Polish-Belarusian border. Wojciech Wilk, president of the Polish Center for International Aid foundation, said that they have the right to apply for refugee status and asylum. – The question is whether the country that is appropriate for considering this application is Belarus, through which these people came and this is the first, safe country for them, or Poland – he added. He assessed that many Iraqis “would probably fail to meet the refugee criteria”, but this is not the case for the Afghans.

On the Polish-Belarusian border a migrant camp was established in Usnarz Górny in the Podlaskie voivodshippushed out of Belarus by the local services. According to TVN24 reporter Piotr Czaban, about 50 people, including women and children, live in the no-man’s-land. He added that there were soldiers and border guards behind the tree line on the Belarusian side, who would not let the group back in.

The authorities in Minsk are accused of deliberately transferring migrants from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan across the borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, which are also the borders of the Schengen area, in order to put pressure on the European Union because of the sanctions it has imposed on the Belarusian regime.

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Wolf: Harassment is the primary criterion for whether or not a person can be granted refugee status

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Wojciech Wilk, president of the Polish Center of International Aid foundation, referred to the case on TVN24. – Belarus sends planes to Baghdad, from where it takes several hundred people, which are then delivered to the Lithuanian and Polish borders. Probably many people would be able to receive or qualify for (receive – ed.) Refugee status – he said. He noted, however, that his foundation works, among others, in Iraq, among the Yazidis. – Yazidis, who were actively persecuted and killed by the Islamic State in 2016, currently do not experience persecution in Iraq – added Wilk.

As he said, “persecution is the basic criterion for whether or not a person can be granted refugee status.” He added that a person whose freedom and human rights in their home country are violated and “for this reason flees abroad and becomes a refugee, may illegally cross the border of their homeland from which they are fleeing”. He added that such illegal border crossing should not be punished under international law. Wilk noted that “in the event of illegal crossing of subsequent borders, the exclusion of criminal record no longer applies”.

Noting that these people did not come to the border voluntarily, but were pushed there by the Belarusian services, he said that “they were delivered by buses organized by the Belarusian government from Minsk.” – They were told: go there, because the European Union is there, but after the border guard blocked the entry to Polish territory, they were blocked by the Belarusian authorities preventing them from returning to Belarus – he added.

Wolf about migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border: the situation is stalemate

The president of the Polish Center for International Aid found that “the situation is at a standstill”.

He stressed that “these people must be helped”. – A person in the situation of a refugee or asylum seeker has the right to access the territory, has the right to apply for refugee status and asylum. Now the only question is whether the country that is appropriate for considering this application is Belarus, through which these people came and this is the first, safe country for them, or Poland – said Wilk.

He recalled that “Poland and Belarus have signed a readmission agreement, i.e. a situation where if a migrant from Belarus comes to Poland and he is sent back by Poland to Belarus, then Belarus – according to those previous agreements, which are already respected – such people were accepted on its territory. ”

Wilk: it is the duty of the Polish state to consider refugee applications

The TVN24 guest said that “this situation is so difficult that it coincides with the crisis of Afghan refugees”. – In the case of Iraqis, many of these migrants would probably not meet the refugee criteria, although it is the duty of the Polish government, the Polish state to consider these refugee applications, and if they do not meet these conditions, send them back to the country, he added. In the case of Afghans, he said, fleeing the Taliban “virtually everyone reaching the borders of the European Union will meet these formal requirements for refugee status.”

He added that then “they should have access to the territory and security, and secondly, refugee status and a new start in a country such as Poland.”

– Migrants, refugees – people as desperate as Iraqis or Afghans – are used as ammunition, as cartridges in the hybrid war, now between Belarus and Poland, said Wilk.

Wojciech Wilk: migrants, refugees, people as desperate as Iraqis or Afghans are used as ammunitionTVN24

He expressed his hope that “these people will be able to reach a refugee center in Poland as soon as possible, find shelter, warmth and warm food there, and that their asylum applications will also be processed there”.

– Let’s hope that they will get access to Polish territory as soon as possible. I would also like to appeal to the Polish authorities about this, said the TVN24 guest.

Main photo source: TVN24



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