The Border Guard units serving on the border with Belarus are starting work on establishing search and rescue groups to provide humanitarian aid to people who are illegally on Polish territory. Mariusz Kurnyta, or Man of the Forest, one of the most famous activists on the Polish-Belarusian border, believes, however, that this will not change much in the situation of migrants. Although he notes that he would like to be wrong.
“The Ministry of Interior and Administration plans to oblige the Border Guard to establish search and rescue groups in units located on the border with Belarus, whose task will be to carry out activities aimed at preventing humanitarian crises, so far reported by activists of non-governmental organizations or local residents.”
This is a fragment of the deputy minister’s answer Ministry of Interior and Administration Maciej Duszczyk to the letter sent by Marcin Wiącek, Ombudsman. He asked the ministry to repeal the regulations allowing the so-called pushbacks, or – as it is included in the regulation of the Ministry of Interior and Administration of August 20, 2021 – returning migrants illegally staying in our country to the border line.
Deputy Minister: this is a way to meet the demands of people involved in aid
The deputy minister replied that work is underway to amend the above-mentioned regulation and that they must aim “to develop a regulation that will enable effective border protection operations, but at the same time allow for the assessment of the individual situation of each migrant who finds himself on the territory of Poland.”
However, he called the creation of search and rescue groups mentioned at the beginning a way to “meet the demands of people involved in helping migrants who found themselves on Polish territory.”
Man of the Forest: That’s not what we meant
– I have the impression that this is just an appearance intended to pull the wool over our eyes. In an appeal sent to the Prime Minister in January Donald Tusk 101 organizations providing humanitarian aid and 550 people wanted to stop the practice of pushbacks and apply them to migrants human rights – it tells us Mariusz Kurnyta, or Man of the Forest, one of the most famous activists from the Podlasie Volunteer Humanitarian Emergency.
He adds that in a January interview for TOK FM, Deputy Minister Duszczyk stated that pushbacks – or “turn-backs” as he calls them – will end when the migration route is closed, and that the ministry is currently looking for a solution that will secure the border, but with an element of humanitarianism.
– In other words, pusbacks will still be practiced and their humanitarian aspect will probably be such that search and rescue groups of the Border Guard will find people who, after receiving medical help and food, will be pushed to the Belarus. This is not what we, as activists, wanted, he emphasizes.
He is afraid that there is no prospect of cooperation with the Border Guard
According to him, state policy should be such that migrants are offered international protection in Poland with three years of accommodation and the opportunity to work. – However, after these three years, they should be able to move around Schengen zone and take up work in any country that belongs to this zone. If a person does not want to apply for protection in Poland, they should be sent to a center for foreigners and then deported to their country of origin, says the Forest Man.
However, when it comes to searching for people who need help after crossing the border, according to him, the activities should be carried out by the Border Guard hand in hand with activists.
– Although I would like to be wrong, I am afraid that such cooperation is not likely – he says.
Border Guard: detailed analyzes are underway
When we ask the acting spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Border Guard, Major Andrzej Juźwiak, among others: about the principles under which search and rescue groups are to operate and whether they will cooperate with activists only confirms that work has already started in the Border Guard aimed at establishing these groups.
“The scope and manner of activities of officers who will be members of these teams, as well as the principles of cooperation and communication with other entities, are currently the subject of our detailed analyses,” he writes.
Operation “Sluice” – a crisis caused by Lukashenko
Migration crisis on the borders of Belarus with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia was triggered by Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused of waging a hybrid war. It involves the organized transfer of migrants to the territory of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. During over 28 years of his rule, Lukashenko has often threatened Europe with weakening border control.
The operation of bringing migrants to Belarus from the Middle East or Africa in order to cause a migration crisis was previously described on his blog by Tadeusz Giczan, a journalist from the Belarusian opposition channel Nexta. He explained that the Belarusian services are conducting the “Sluice” operation invented 10 years ago. Under the guise of trips to Minsk, promising to transfer them to Western Europe, the Lukashenko regime brought thousands of migrants to Belarus. Then he transports them to the borders of EU countries, where Belarusian services force them to cross them illegally. This operation is still ongoing.
Read more at tvn24.pl: Crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border
Main photo source: border guards