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The UN kept away from the border between Belarus and Poland | The migrant crisis

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During a regular press briefing by humanitarian agencies, a spokesperson for the High Commission forUN rights officer, Liz Throssell, explained that their team was able to visit Poland, but without having been authorized to enter the border area, while Belarus had blocked access to all of its territory.

We urge the authorities of the two countries to allow access to border areas for humanitarian and human rights representatives, journalists, lawyers, as well as representatives of civil society.

A quote from Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office also calls on Belarus and Poland to urgently remedy at the desperate situation in which migrants and refugees find themselves at the borders between the two countries.

From November 29 to December 3, a team from the High Commission visited Poland. Although not allowed to travel to the border area, she met with government and civil society representatives, and held talks with 31 migrants who arrived between August and November.

Interviewees described dire conditions on both sides of the border, with no or limited access to food, clean water and shelter, said Throssell.

The majority of them said they were beaten or threatened by security forces while in Belarus. They also claimed that Belarusian security forces forced them to cross the border, telling them when and where to cross, and prevented them from returning to Minsk.

A quote from Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Wide shot of many people crowding into open space.

Migrants crowd into a center near the Polish border near Grodno, Belarus, on December 1, 2021.

Photo: The Canadian Press / AP / Oksana Manchuk

The Office calls on Belarus to investigate these allegations and to put immediately an end to these practices. He also calls on Poland to stop returning migrants to Belarus without an individual study of their case and not to systematically detain those who are not returned.

Detention should be an exceptional measure of last resort, and should only be used for a limited period, if at all, said the spokesperson.

We also remind theEuropean Union and its member states their obligation to ensure respect for human rights at the external borders of theEuropean Union, she added.

Western countries accuse Belarus of orchestrating the influx to the borders ofEuropean Union thousands of migrants since the summer in revenge for sanctions imposed after the disputed elections in 2020. Minsk has rejected these accusations and accused Warsaw of violently turning back migrants who have managed to cross the border.

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