Digital Desk, Brussels. The humanitarian and human rights situation on Poland’s border with Belarus has become alarming and urgent measures are needed to protect the lives of those trapped there. This information was given by the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (COE) Dunja Mijatovic. In a statement issued at the end of his four-day visit to Poland, Mijatovi called on the Polish government to allow media and humanitarian aid organizations access to the border to end human suffering and human rights violations.
Since August, thousands of migrants, most of them from war-torn countries in the Middle East, were stranded on the border between Belarus and its neighbors to enter European Union (EU) territory. Last week there were clashes between Polish soldiers using water cannons and migrants throwing stones. The commissioner said that restrictions on access to border areas adjacent to Poland’s state of emergency have harmful consequences. He said it prevented international organizations and civil society from providing vital humanitarian aid and fulfilling critical surveillance and human rights.
Denying access to the media undermines freedom of expression and information and limits much-needed transparency and accountability, promotes disinformation and reinforces a sense of insecurity, he said. The commissioner said, journalists should be allowed to report freely and safely from all areas on the border. That said, Poland’s current law allows for immediate return to the border of persons entering territory outside the official border crossing, as well as curtailing the right to seek asylum.
“I have personally heard horrific stories of extreme suffering from desperate people, many of whom are families, children and the elderly, who have spent weeks or months in harsh and extreme conditions in the cold and wet wilderness caused by this turmoil,” Mijatovic said. . “I can see his painful life with wounds, cold, exhaustion and stress,” he said. He said, a woman was fighting for her life in the local hospital. Many people lost their lives. I have no doubt that returning to the border will cause more human suffering and more deaths for any of these people. Every night and every hour spent there moment is a real threat to their lives. The commissioner stressed that dealing with the current situation should not be solely on Poland. This is a European issue, which requires solidarity and a human rights-focused response based on European values and standards.