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UNHCR urges Poland to relieve refugees on the border


Barbered wire is pictured at the Polish-Belarusian border near the village of Usnarz Gorny, Poland, August 23, 2021. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, urged Poland on Tuesday to provide medical care and legal support to migrants at its border.

Along with rights groups, the agency also pressed the Polish authorities to shelter those refugees.

This appeal comes a day after Warsaw said it would build a fence to stop migrants flowing into the country.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have reported a spike in migrants from Afghanistan and Iraq.

The EU says Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko is waging a “hybrid” war on migrants to pressure the bloc.

“While we acknowledge the challenges posed by recent arrivals at Poland, we call on the Polish authorities to provide access to territory,” said UNHCR representative in Poland, Christine Goyer.

“We also call for immediate medical assistance, legal advice, and psychosocial support to these people,” she added.

Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said on Monday they will build a high solid fence along the border with Belarus.

The new fence would be 2.5 meters high (8.2 feet).

“States have the legitimate right to manage their borders under International Law,” UNHCR stated

“However, they must also respect human rights, including the right to seek asylum,” the statement added.

Nevertheless, the Polish Foreign Ministry said it applies all provisions of the International Law and respects the right to seek asylum.

“Poland fully respects the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and complies with its provisions in the current situation,” the ministry stated.

However, the ministry said it expects Belarus to fulfill its obligation as a party to the convention.

The ministry also demanded that Belarus provide adequate care to people in its territory.

Human rights groups

On Tuesday, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said it had called the European Court of Human Rights to take temporary measures against Poland.

The Committee said it’s to make sure Poland provides safety, food, water and shelter to the refugees.

The Polish Human Rights Ombudsman said Border Patrol didn’t accept verbal declarations from migrants seeking international protection in Poland.

The Ombudsman said this is a violation of the Geneva Convention.




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