Poland Asked to Protect Human Rights of People Stranded at Its Border with Belarus

Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo: Council of Europe
Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights. Photo: Council of Europe

The situation is the result of attempts by Belarus to encourage people to cross borders.

The dire humanitarian situation of a group of people stuck for many days at the Polish-Belarusian border is alarming, said Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.  

In a statement released on August 25, Ms Mijatović said this situation is the result of attempts by Belarus to encourage people to cross borders, leaving them in a vulnerable position and creating challenges for the receiving state. 

“I firmly condemn such actions,” Ms Mijatović said. “But Poland must not allow innocent, vulnerable people to be victims of such conduct. Pushing people back, denying them access to fair asylum procedures, or simply leaving them stuck in a humanitarian emergency cannot be the answer of a Council of Europe member state bound by the European Convention on Human Rights, the Refugee Convention and other international human rights instruments.”

[ Also Read: How U.S. Exploits Human Rights Abuses in India for Its Commercial Interests ]

As also pointed out by UNHCR, immediate principled action is now needed to find a solution to protect the human rights of the people stranded at the border and to ensure that their humanitarian needs are met. Organisations providing humanitarian or legal assistance should be allowed access and people stuck at the border should be enabled to apply for international protection to which they may be entitled, the statement added. 

Poland is not alone in facing these difficult issues. Ms Mijatović says she has also published a letter for the Lithuanian government setting out her concerns in detail. Many of these concerns also apply to the situation faced by Poland and other Council of Europe member states. 

Meanwhile, Amnesty International has urged Poland to allow entry and provide humanitarian assistance to a group of 32 people from Afghanistan who have been held at the border between Poland and Belarus without food, clean water, shelter, and medicine for two weeks after being pushed back from Poland.

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Rakesh Raman