In its letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the Open Dialogue Foundation, along with other civil society organisations, appeals to the Polish authorities for aid for refugees and, thus, fulfil their international obligations.
The signatories of the letter paid special attention to the situation of Syrian refugees who, fleeing the escalating conflict in Idlib province, became stuck in a buffer zone on the territory of Greece. “The Greek border guards do not allow them to enter the EU territory and use violence against persons striving to cross the border (…). We wish to stress that, according to European values, the use of gas, force, army and weapons against refugees at the EU borders is inadmissible. Closing borders, deporting people without due process and sending them back to war zones violates the principle of non-refoulement. Also, it is simply inhumane,” reads the letter, the full content of which is published below. In the letter, the NGOs remind the readers that the Polish government has committed itself to protect people who are fleeing the war in Syria, and, therefore, it should strive to suspend Dublin transfers to Greece in the shortest possible time, comply with relocation decisions and create humanitarian corridors for refugees.
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3 March 2020
Dear Prime Minister,
As a group of civil society organisations and groups working in Poland for refugees and migrants, we want to remind you and appeal that the Polish government must also meet its international obligations to provide shelter to people fleeing war, violence or persecution.
For several days now, we have been observing how the situation of refugees, who find themselves at the borders of Europe, is changing. Five years have passed since the so-called “refugee crisis” was announced, and the agreement between the European Union and Turkey has been in force for four years. Meanwhile, once again we are witnessing how people fleeing war are being deprived of their fundamental right to asylum in Europe.
For several months now, the conflict has been escalating in Idlib province. There are attacks on civilians, bombing of hospitals and schools. People trying to escape the war are trapped. Turkey hasn’t yet opened its border with the province of Idlib, due to the huge number of Syrian refugees already residing on its territory. Instead, it has unilaterally announced the opening of the border with Greece and Bulgaria, where in turn, encouraged refugees are stuck in another buffer zone. The Greek border guards prevent them from entering the EU territory, and use violence against those trying to cross the border. According to the Aegean Boat Report, in the last two days alone, at least 45 boats with more than 1500 people have reached the Greek islands. Currently there are more than 40,000 refugees in just five European hot spots prepared for 6,000 people. This is the highest number of refugees since the EU-Turkey agreement was signed. Greece can no longer accept more people without the solidarity of other EU members.
It is with great concern that we see the Greek government resorting to drastic measures to stop more refugees from entering its territory. We wish to underline that, according to European values, the use of gas, force, army and weapons against refugees at the EU borders is inadmissible. Closing borders, deporting people without due process and sending them back to war zones violates the principle of non-refoulement. Also, it is simply inhumane.
Therefore, we would like to remind you that the Polish government also must fulfil its responsibility to protect people who are fleeing the war in Syria. Urgent action is needed to provide refugees with a safe path to European countries where they have the right to seek asylum according to international standards. Practical steps at national and Community level are necessary and possible. Poland, along with other EU countries, should strive to suspend Dublin transfers to Greece in the shortest possible time and to comply with relocation decisions, as well as to create humanitarian corridors for refugees. Poland should also advocate at the EU arena for the support of Greece under Article 78(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union allowing for the use of temporary measures, including urgent humanitarian aid and urgent relocations, as well as confirmation and respect of the principle of non-refoulement.
We do not agree to the authorities’ passivity. We wish to provide refugees with a safe path to European countries where they will be able to apply for asylum according to appropriate standards. We also wish to ensure that refugees can also exercise their right to protection in our country. At the same time, we wish to express our solidarity with all male and female refugees at Europe’s borders and those who support them and fill the gap left by European governments.
- Centre for Intercultural Initiatives ‘Horizons’
- With Bread And Salt
- ‘Centre for Migration Studies’ Foundation
- Foundation for Somalia
- Foundation for Freedom
- The Other Space Foundation
- Foundation for the Multicultural Centre
- ‘Our Choice’ Foundation
- ‘Ocalenie’ (Salvation) Foundation
- Open Dialogue Foundation
- Polish Migration Forum Foundation
- Polish Hospitality Foundation
- The Hope Project Foundation Poland
- Free Syria Foundation
- Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
- Humans Of Aleppo
- Institute of Public Affairs
- Polish Institute for Human Rights and Business
- Polish Fair Trade Association
- Poznan Garage Sale
- Friends of the People
- ReFOCUS Media Labs
- Refugees Welcome Polska
- Sopot Centre for Integration and Support of Foreigners (run the ‘Socially Safe’ Foundation)
- Amnesty International Poland Association
- Association ‘For Earth’
- Better World Association
- INTERKULTURALNI PL Association
- Association for Legal Intervention
- Homo Faber Association
- ‘Never Again’ Association
- Nomada Association
- ‘Maitri’ Movement Association
- ‘Weaving Mill’ Association
- Strefa Wolnosłowa [The Free-Word Zone]
- Light for Syria
- Ukrainian House