The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) called in a statement issued for immediate access to migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border to provide them with medical assistance, food, water and shelter. It was stressed that “asylum seekers and migrants should never be used by states to pursue political goals.”
UNHCR and IOM “are deeply saddened by the deaths of four people near the Polish-Belarusian border. Organizations express their condolences to the families of the deceased and call for an immediate investigation of the tragedy. The nationality of all victims has not yet been confirmed, but most likely two Iraqi citizens have died from hypothermia,” the report said. in the UNHCR announcement.
It added that both organizations are “following reports with growing concern” on the so-called pushbacks, ie pushing migrants abroad. As we read in the release, groups of people are stuck for weeks without access to any form of assistance, asylum or basic services. “Many were left in a dire situation, exposed to the elements, suffering from hypothermia. Some were rescued from the swamps,” he added.
UNHCR and IOM “, recognizing the significant challenges posed by illegal border traffic,” called for “the management of the situation in line with international legal obligations and for cooperation to resolve the situation, giving priority to human rights.”
The organizations also called for “immediate access to those affected to provide life-saving medical assistance, food, water and shelter, especially with the approaching winter.”
UNHCR and IOM: Migrants should never be used by states to pursue political goals
UNHCR and IOM noted that “while states have the sovereign right to manage their borders, this is not contrary to respect for human rights, including the right to seek asylum.” “Pushbacks are life-threatening and are inconsistent with international law” – emphasized in the press release.
UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration stress that “asylum seekers and migrants should never be used by states to pursue political goals.” “Responsibility for protecting vulnerable people should be shared between states in a spirit of solidarity. Political disagreement with this responsibility can never end in death and breach of international obligations,” the press release said.
Death of migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border
On Sunday, the Border Guard informed that the bodies of people who had crossed the border had been found in the border zone. Chief Commander of the Border Guard, Maj. Gen. Tomasz Praga said on Monday that the bodies of three migrants were found on the Polish side, and as far as the Polish Border Guard is known, the body of one person – a woman – was found on the Belarusian side. From September 2, in the border zone with Belarus in part of the Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces, a state of emergency applies. It covers 183 towns. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda, issued at the request of the government.
Among other things, the media are not allowed to work in the area covered by the state of emergency. All information from this area is communicated to the public by official agents.
Government officials justified the need to introduce a state of emergency with the situation on the border with Belarus, where Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime is waging a “hybrid war” with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, and the Russian Zapad military exercises.
Since the beginning of September, the Border Guard has recorded nearly 4.5 thousand attempts to illegally cross the Polish border with Belarus.
Main photo source: TVN24