A UN human rights expert on Thursday urged Belarus and Poland to stop pushing back refugees.
In a written statement, praising Poland for “providing significant support to a huge number of refugees fleeing Ukraine in such an intense period,” Felipe Gonzalez Morales, the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, also drew attention to the “double standard approach” of Poland towards refugees from other countries.
“Even for those that have fled the same war, although all were accepted for entry into Poland and have received assistance from the state, third-country nationals are not protected under the same legal framework,” Morales said.
From July 12-25, Morales paid an official visit to Poland and Belarus to inspect the situation of refugees at the border.
The statement added that the Polish “parliament adopted a special law granting Ukrainian citizens and their spouses equal access to the Polish labour market, health care, right to education and other social benefits. Third country nationals are protected in line with goals set out in the EU Temporary Protection Directive.”
He said that while the migrants were subject to de facto detention at the already closed Temporary Logistical Center in Belarus, the migrant children and those with their families, and pregnant women remain detained in closed immigration facilities in Poland.
“Children and other vulnerable individuals should not be locked up merely due to their migration status. Alternative reception and care options exist in Poland,” Morales said. “I urge relevant authorities to immediately release unaccompanied children, children with their families, pregnant women and individuals with mental conditions into open facilities.”
Russia’s war on Ukraine has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.
At least 5,237 civilians have been killed and 7,035 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war on Feb. 24, according to the UN. Some 10 million people have also fled to neighboring countries.