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Activists talk about a humanitarian crisis on the border

With the increase in the number of people trying to cross the Polish border with Biorosian, more and more of them are stuck in the border area. The Belarusian services – according to the reports of the migrants themselves – do not allow them to return to Minsk, even if they wanted to. The Polish border guards use the so-called push back, that is, they push migrants in Poland to the Belarusian side of the border.

This is how most of the discovered attempts to cross the end of the boundary have been made. However, some people are detained in Poland (some first go to hospitals when, for example, their lives are in danger due to hypothermia). As we learned from the border guards, approximately 1.5 thousand people have been arrested in the past three months. Persons. To date, almost half of them – about 650 people – have applied for international protection in Poland.

This allows them to remain in Poland until they are considered. If the Aliens Office finds that they meet the criteria – they can obtain the status uchodcy, or perhaps another form of international protection. On the other hand, they may face criminal charges related to illegal border crossing, as well as deportation (officially – an obligation to return).

Asylum seekers arrive in Poland

We asked Susanna Kaszyopska, a lawyer for the Association for Legal Intervention, about the legal status of these people. Kaciupska has recently been working with people applying for refugee status with a guard post for foreigners in Kętrzyn.

In the last week of September, I worked at the center with people who mostly came to Poland in August. – After their arrest by the border guards, they were transferred to the border guard station. There they declared their readiness to apply for international protection. Later, they ended up in a guard post for aliens, where they initially stayed quarantine – Reports. Generally, they receive a court order to place them in the center for about three months, and then the stay in the center is extended for another three months. Most of the people Kaszyopska interviewed had applied for refugee status. They were from Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

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– After submitting an application for international protection, these people will conduct an interview in which they can explain why they fled their country of origin and why they are seeking refugee status – says the lawyer. It also reported that criminal proceedings are pending against some of them. “But I haven’t seen a verdict in any of these cases yet,” she added.

Asylum is a human right.

representative rz ± du They repeat that the people who were stopped by the border guards and returned to Belarus are “not refugees.” For example, the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, Biagej Poboye, stated that “there are no refugees” among these people.

Meanwhile, the data shows that at least some of those who come to Poland across the border with Belarus express a desire to obtain refugee status. These people are referred to in English as asylum seeker (any asylum seekers) are protected and subject to specific provisions of Polish and international law. As Amnesty International describes, asylum seekers are those who have left their country and are seeking protection due to persecution or human rights violations, but who have not been legally recognized as refugees and are awaiting a decision. “Asylum is a human right” – Amnesty International emphasizes.

The data we got from the Aliens Office shows that the number of asylum seekers has increased significantly in recent months.

In August of this year, such applications were submitted by about a thousand people, of whom about 700 were citizens of Afghanistan, 200 – Belarus, 25 – Russia. In turn, from September 1 to 15, there were 800 applications, including a little more than half of Afghans, 135 of Belarusian citizens and 125 of Iraqi citizens. For comparison, such requests were made throughout 2019 by 4.1 thousand. People, mostly citizens of Russia. Most requests from Afghan nationals – especially from August – likely come from people who came to Poland as part of the evacuation after the Taliban took power. In this way, 937 people were evacuated. Thus, at least 200 asylum seekers from Afghanistan are people who arrived in Poland in a different way.

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Nearly half of the detainees have applied for refugee status

We asked border guards how many people were arrested after crossing the border illegally, and who applied for refugee status. In response, Public Security spokeswoman Anna Michalska reported that in July there were 242 attempts to illegally cross the border from Belarus into Poland, in August – 3510, and by September 29 – 7006. Most of these attempts were – as described by the border guards – ” thwarted.” We don’t know how frustrating the response, i.e. the transfer of people from Polish territory to the border and forcing them to cross into Belarus, is caused.

We know that so far 1,471 have been arrested in Poland and sent to centers closed to foreigners. The most enumerated groups are citizens of Iraq – 794 and Afghanistan – 368. As of September 29, 44 percent. Persons in guard posts apply for international protection. According to the Border Guard spokeswoman, some of them do not want to apply in Poland because “they know that they will have to wait about 6 months for the decisions of the head of the Office of Foreigners Affairs in Poland, and whether they do not receive refugee status, they will be deported” and “prefer to submit applications in Germany “.

According to a lawyer from the SIP, migrants detained in the centers often do not understand the Polish procedures. – They receive documents, for example decisions obligating them to return (eg deportation – editor). We are trying to explain the procedures and help with writing petitions, Kaciupska said. She added that these people sometimes do not know exactly what is being done against them and do not distinguish administrative procedures related to an application for refugee status from the criminal case of illegal border crossing.

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The situation in the centers is getting more and more difficult

Lawyers from the Association for Legal Intervention help immigrant in understanding what is happening to them. – We try to visit the centers regularly and give legal advice to foreigners – said Kaciupska.

However, legal issues are just one of your concerns. Another is the living conditions of the centers to which asylum seekers come:

– There are currently about 400 people at the center in Kętrzyn. Previously, these were much smaller numbers. Foreigners often report that they need warm clothes. Sometimes they complain about food, which is also different from the food they are accustomed to. Many people complained about limited access to a doctor and psychologist. I spoke to a pregnant woman who reported that she does not get vitamins from her doctor. The most difficult situation is for families with children.

These people are often confused, upset. They don’t know how long they will stay at the resort. Over time, their resignations appear – the lawyer added.