We are talking about a few thousand people, left in the cold in the woods after being flown to Minsk with the mirage of an asylum. Warsaw has deployed 12,000 soldiers, the EU has activated humanitarian aid and other sanctions. And (for now) it has rejected the request, from 13 states, to build walls on their borders
To understand what has happened on the border between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Belarus in recent weeks, we need to start from the numbers. The most recent are those provided by Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. According to data published on 22 November, 160,000 “illegal border crossings” were recorded in the EU in the first ten months of this year, an increase of 70% compared to the same period in 2020. The greatest growth occurred in Eastern borders of the EU and along the central Mediterranean route. Nearly 8,000 people have entered the EU’s eastern border since January, mostly Iraqis, Afghans and Syrians, 15 times more than in 2020. Crossings from Belarus peaked at over 3,200 in July, but dropped to over 600 in October to go back to November.
STORY OF A TRAP. AND OF A DEAD CHILD FREEZING IN THE FOREST. AMONG THE 160 THOUSAND “ILLEGAL CROSSINGS OF THE BORDERS”, INCREASING BY 70%, THE GREATEST GROWTH TAKEN AT THE EAST BORDERS
At the moment of greatest crisis, according to Minsk, there were about 7,000 people (men, women and children) on the border with the EU who, however, did not manage to cross the border illegally, with rare exceptions. They have now been moved inside. The doors of the European Union remained closed. Twelve died of frostbite, including a one-year-old baby. Poland has blocked access to that woodland tongue that marks the border with Belarus not only for migrants, but also for European agencies and the media. The dramatic images were taken from the Belarusian side. 55,000 arrived across the central Mediterranean from January, 6,240 in October. Comparing the figures, it is normal to wonder what has turned a phenomenon into drama that reaches much higher numbers elsewhere.
EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER YLVA JOHANSSON: THIS IS NOT A MIGRATION CRISIS, IT IS A REAL AGGRESSION OF A DESPERATE REGIME, WHICH HAS COME TO SELLING TICKETS FOR THE EU
And the answer was given by the Commissioner for European Affairs, Ylva Johansson: “We are facing an unprecedented situation: Alexander Lukashenko, often described as the last European dictator, not only denied the Belarusians free elections, he imprisoned the opposition and how a pirate hijacked a plane that was traveling between two member states, reasons why the EU imposed sanctions, but also started selling tickets to the EU, inviting people to pay a lot of money to be taken to the border. These migrants were threatened by the military if they did not try to cross the border. Belarus is not a country experiencing migratory pressure ”. And therefore the one on the border with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia “is not a migratory crisis, it is a real aggression of an illegitimate and desperate regime”. (read on after the links and the photo)
Minsk uses migrants to “destabilize” the EU
We are not in the presence of a crisis like the one we witnessed in 2015 following the war in Syria and which prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel to welcome 1.2 million asylum seekers to Germany. For the president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen as well as for the president of the European Council Charles Michel it is a “hybrid attack” on the Union by the Belarusian president Lukashenko, put under pressure by EU sanctions. Minsk uses migrants to “destabilize” the EU. For this reason, despite the deep problems of Warsaw due to the lack of respect for the rule of law, the EU has squared around Poland which has rejected the “attack” by deploying 12,000 soldiers to garrison the border. The migrants deceived by Lukashenko are the “collateral victims” of this war. It was not even possible to reach an agreement to open a humanitarian corridor: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who accuses Russia of supporting Lukashenko, said he would never allow it.
EU law prohibits rejections
Even Chancellor Merkel’s attempt at mediation was unsuccessful. The EU has activated the humanitarian aid machine on Belarusian soil, providing funding to humanitarian agencies and promoting repatriation to the countries of origin. It has also decided to triple border management funds to Lithuania, Latvia and Poland for this year and 2022. Finally, he proposed, in a preventive key, a new regulation that will allow airlines and other transport operators to facilitate the smuggling of irregular migrants to the EU to be included in a black list. And then it approved the fifth round of sanctions. But no entry for migrants. EU law prohibits rejections.
Conventions oblige to protect refugees
The 1951 Refugee Convention, the European Convention on Human Rights and EU law oblige member states to protect people’s right to seek asylum and protection even if they enter illegally. Authorities cannot therefore automatically deny entry or repatriate people without making an individual assessment of those in need of protection. Polish soldiers used water cannons to drive migrants away from the border. The vice-president of the EU Commission, Margaritis Schinas, who is in charge of migration, explained that “Belarus is not exempt from the obligation to accept asylum applications because it is subject to the Geneva Convention”. For now, the Commission continues to deny the use of EU funds for the construction of walls along the external borders despite the request of 13 Member States. But who knows until when.
December 4, 2021 (change December 4, 2021 | 08:22)
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