Poland: Senior government official admits that children are among those pushed back to Polish and Belarusian border. Criticisms raised about measures being clear violations of EU and international law as migrants are exposed to plummeting temperatures

Issue at hand:

  • Migrants stuck in 3 km deep strip between Poland and Belarus, some for more than three weeks
  • NGOs and journalists denied access as Polish state emergency extended for another 60 days
  • Migrants are extremely vulnerable to decreasing temperatures, as at least six people have died from exposure so far
  • Push backs have ensued from Polish sides (a clear breach of EU and international law) with children as young as 2 being driven back into the forested area
  • September 2021 ministerial decree: those intercepted in the border are must leave Poland and be “returned to the state border line”
    • Proposed amendments to allow the removal of people even after they claimed for asylum
  • Poland plans to further secure borders with motion sensors and cameras

Context:

  • Throughout talk-show “Kawa na lawe” deputy foreign minister Piotr Wawrzyk admitted that migrant children, including infants were among those driven back to Belarusian border
  • Center-right and Left-wing politicians heavily criticized justifications hard-liner border policies given by Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice party
    • Justification 1: Belarus’ and Russia’s “hybrid war” against EU borders
    • Justification 2: Migrant families, including infants, had wanted to be taken back from Polish camps to the border zone in order to seek asylum in Germany instead of Poland
  • Debating and side-taking continues on high political levels

Criticisms:

  • NGOs and human-rights defenders: measures taken are clear violation of EU and international law

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