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Opinion – A State of Emergency on the Polish-Belarusian Border

A small Polish village on the border with Belarus, Usnarz Górny, has change into a logo of the Polish stand on refugees’ safety as 32 asylum seekers grew to become trapped between Polish and Belarusian border guards. Polish authorities not solely refuse to just accept their asylum purposes and are constructing a barbed wire fence but in addition, on September 2, 2021, declared a state of emergency in 183 cities in a 3-kilometer strip of land alongside the Polish-Belarusian border. Of their opinion, the current situation is a hybrid attack orchestrated by Lukashenko who tries to destabilize the political situation in Poland by bringing migrants from Iraq to the Polish border. Nevertheless, the state of affairs in Usnarz Górny is simply the tip of the iceberg as migration from the Japanese border has been growing already for a while in addition to the variety of push again operations.

The same stand on the matter was taken by the EU, because the European Commissioner for House Affairs, Ylva Johansson, claimed:

The actions on Polish aspect, the state of emergency and the shortage of entry to the border zone, already led to loss of life of six individuals who tried to cross the border – inflicting concern within the European Fee. However why has this case has not met but with a harsh criticism and actions from the EU establishments? This text seems to be at some causes of why Poland and the EU behave on this method. It begins nonetheless with the query why Poland should assist asylum seekers.

In the beginning, push-back operations are unlawful and the refusal to just accept and look at asylum purposes is in opposition to the Geneva Conference, the European Conference on Human Rights and the Dublin Conference. If a person expresses a declare for asylum, the border guard has a authorized obligation to look at it. Nevertheless, in line with the work of The Rule of Law Institute, border guards make the most of terminological variations. Asylum seekers typically use the phrase ‘azyl’ which is similar to English (‘asylum’) and ought to be understood, in accordance with the EU terminology, as a request for worldwide safety. However, Polish border guards use Polish terminology in line with which ‘azyl’ is a nationwide type of safety (not worldwide safety) granted to foreigners in want of safety however when it’s supported by the pursuits of Poland. Within the case of lack of such curiosity, safety shouldn’t be granted.

One other instance of illegal actions in direction of asylum seekers is included in a draft act amending the act on foreigners and the act on granting protection to foreigners within the territory of the Republic of Poland – adopted on August 17, 2021. Based on the act, foreigners could also be instantly eliminated and banned from re-entering Poland in case of unlawful border crossing. Moreover, their purposes for worldwide safety could also be left with out examination, which has been claimed to be against not only the provisions of international law but also the Polish Constitution.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, present vice-president and chief of the Regulation and Justice Social gathering, made a speech in the Parliament on September 16, 2015, arguing that Poland doesn’t have an ethical obligation to just accept refugees because it neither took half in colonialization nor within the current destabilising actions taken by the US and a few European international locations within the Center East. Whereas certainly Poland didn’t have colonies, it does make the most of being a part of a system construct by earlier colonizers. Furthermore, Poland despatched troops to Afghanistan and Iraq that are two international locations from which many asylum seekers come. Additional, from the historic standpoint, Poland ought to categorical a particular empathy and solidarity with foreigners who not solely flee from wars and persecution but in addition search to discover a higher life as Polish historical past consists of a number of waves of emigration.

Poland wants foreigners for at the least two causes: cultural and financial. Though the variety of foreigners in Poland has considerably elevated, it nonetheless contrasts with the information from different European international locations: on January 1, 2020, Poland had the second lowest (after Romania) share of non-nationals in the resident population in the EU. In a survey from the identical yr, solely 40% of Poles declared that they personally knew a foreigner living in Poland. This lack of familiarity with foreigners can considerably contribute to a hostile attitude towards foreigners, especially to those from the Middle East and Africa, and result in tensions within the society when the move of immigrants will increase. And this may possible occur because of the demographical state of affairs: Polish society is lately eldering faster than the average in the EU and it’s calculated that “in 2030 employers will have problems with filling every fifth job position”.

Throughout the ‘migration disaster’ the Polish Authorities took a agency stand on migration which nonetheless has repercussions. The refusal to relocate a comparatively small variety of refugees impacted each the interior and exterior picture of Poland. On one hand, the Polish Authorities adopted securitising discourse on migration, presenting particularly individuals from the Center East and Africa, as a critical risk to nationwide, societal and well being safety. Accepting refugees now would contradict this discourse in addition to the above-mentioned discourse on lack of ethical obligation to assist. Thus, the actions which are presently beneath method are in step with the illustration of Poland as a rustic that prioritises its safety and defence – on this case, from Belarusian assault.

Whereas the Polish authorities’s actions met with sturdy opposition from authorized consultants, activists and a few politicians, the supporting response that got here from the EU may be seen as sudden on the first sight. However, the EU nonetheless very a lot remembers the shortage of solidarity among the many Member States in 2015 and it faces unsolved issues at different migration routes and fears for future blackmail with migrants as a bargaining chip as within the case of Turkey. If one assumes that the rise of the variety of migrants on the Polish Japanese border is certainly simply Lukashenko’s doing, then taking the refugees opens the door for future blackmail not solely from Belarus but in addition different international locations – and this says nothing for the humanitarian price.

Lastly, there are additionally technical issues to contemplate. First, because it has been suspected by the Rule of Law Institute, Polish border guards could have issues with entry Eurodac units which makes it unattainable to successfully scan fingerprints with the submission of the asylum software as required by the Dublin Conference. Second, there’s a lack of locations within the centres for foreigners. Since migration to Poland has typically elevated and the admission of purposes at authorized crossings has been restricted, the variety of irregular crossings rose considerably: in the first half of this year, there were 4006 persons, whereas in the same period of the previous year – 1453. If somebody crosses the border irregularly then they’re robotically despatched to one in every of solely six centres in Poland. There may be additionally a problem with translators whose presence is crucial. Lack of translators slows down the method and causes asylum seekers to spend months ready for choices within the guarded centres with out figuring out what is occurring with their circumstances.

Whereas the technical points with accepting asylum seekers in Poland in addition to the tough state of affairs throughout the EU in migration issues can to some extent clarify the deadlock on the border, can politics and technicalities be above the precise to worldwide safety, and particularly, humanitarian therapy? Poland has been disobeying its obligations in direction of asylum seekers for a very long time and this ought to be condemned on the worldwide stage. The issue is that neither the EU nor the world has a long-term plan for easy methods to handle migration which might solely be anticipated to extend as a consequence of political destabilisation and local weather disaster. 

The creator wish to thank dr Tomasz Sieniow, the President of the Rule of Regulation Basis, for a really attention-grabbing dialogue, and insights, that contributed to this text.

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations

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