June 27, 2022

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UN Rights Chief Urges ‘de-escalation’ Of Poland-Belarus Crisis

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Poland news
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United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called on Belarus and Poland to de-escalate the “intolerable” migrant crisis on their shared border and said those stranded at the frontier should not spend another night without shelter in freezing temperatures.

Bachelet’s remarks on Wednesday came after Warsaw said it had moved thousands more troops to the border after hundreds of people tried overnight to cross from Belarus into Poland.

“I urge the states involved to take immediate steps to de-escalate and resolve this intolerable situation in line with their obligations under international human rights law and refugee law,” Bachelet said in a statement.

“These hundreds of men, women and children must not be forced to spend another night in freezing weather without adequate shelter, food, water and medical care,” she said. “Under international law, no one should ever be prevented from seeking protection, and individual consideration must be given to their protection needs.”

Bachelet called for access for aid workers, lawyers and journalists to those stranded.

She said that actions by both Warsaw and Minsk “including through the increased deployment of troops – and accompanying inflammatory rhetoric” had increased the vulnerability and risks faced by the migrants.

European Council President Charles Michel said the bloc must act with “solidarity” over the border crisis while visiting Warsaw on Wednesday.

“We are facing a hybrid, brutal, violent and unworthy attack, and we can only reply to this with firmness and unity, in accordance with our core values,” he told reporters at a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who described the unfolding situation as a “manifestation of state terrorism”.

Minsk, which is backed by Russia, denies engineering the migrant crisis and instead blames European powers and the United States for the plight of those stranded.

Moscow has charged the EU with responsibility for the situation and denounced Western plans for further sanctions on Belarus, a country it regards as a strategic buffer against NATO, as unacceptable.

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