Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Migrant group stuck at Polish-Belarusian border

A group of migrants, including women and children, are stuck at the border with Belarus, Poland's border guard said Monday as activists accused the officers of not letting migrants plead for asylum.

The group has been forced to camp for four days in the forest near Bialowieza, at the border fence erected by the nationalist government in Warsaw to prevent irregular crossings.

In a statement sent to AFP, the border guard said the group of "around 20-30 people" was "outside the jurisdiction" of Poland.

"Therefore any administrative activities, including the possible acceptance of an application for international protection, if the intention of these people is to obtain protection in Poland, is not possible," it added.

According to the activists, the group at the border include people from Syria, Iraq, and Congo, with 11 children.

The rights body Grupa Granica claimed that the migrants, despite not having crossed the fence, had already entered Polish territory.

They also warned the migrants were not allowed back into Belarus, with the country's border guards threatening them with dogs, and claimed at least two people had been beaten or injured by the officers in Belarus.

The Polish border guard said in a statement it asked the Belarusian side to provide the migrants with help and support, but the calls were not answered.

"They only sent a person documenting the whole situation, certainly to use it for their own propaganda," the statement said.

On Saturday, Poland's deputy ombudsman intervened, issuing an "urgent request for information" about the status of the migrants.