UN rights chief urges ‘de-escalation’ of Poland-Belarus disaster

Michelle Bachelet calls on Warsaw and Minsk to resolve ‘intolerable situation’ at shared frontier, the place a whole bunch of individuals are stranded in freezing situations.

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has referred to as on Belarus and Poland to de-escalate the “intolerable” migrant disaster on their shared border and mentioned these stranded on the frontier shouldn’t spend one other evening with out shelter in freezing temperatures.

Bachelet’s remarks on Wednesday got here after Warsaw mentioned it had moved hundreds extra troops to the border after a whole bunch of individuals tried in a single day to cross from Belarus into Poland.

Minsk accused Polish safety forces of illegally pushing asylum seekers again into Belarus.

Hundreds of individuals are presently camped alongside the border, a fraction of the estimated 4,000 migrants and refugees gathered in areas near the frontier, together with close by forests.

“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 mentioned in an announcement.

“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 mentioned. “Under international law, no one should ever be prevented from seeking protection, and individual consideration must be given to their protection needs.”

Bachelet referred to as for entry for help staff, legal professionals and journalists to these stranded.

She mentioned that actions by each Warsaw and Minsk “including through the increased deployment of troops – and accompanying inflammatory rhetoric” had elevated the vulnerability and dangers confronted by the migrants.

‘Manifestation of state terrorism’

Poland and different European Union member states accuse Belarus of encouraging migrants and refugees to attempt to cross the shared border in revenge for Western sanctions on Minsk imposed within the wake of a disputed August 2020 election that handed longtime President Alexander Lukashenko a sixth time period in workplace.

The bloc’s 27 ambassadors are set to agree on Wednesday that the rising numbers of individuals flying to Belarus to reach the EU border quantity to “hybrid warfare” by Lukashenko – a authorized foundation for brand new penalties reportedly set to focus on dozens of Belarusian people and entities.

European Council President Charles Michel mentioned the bloc should act with “solidarity” over the border disaster whereas 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 instructed reporters at a joint press convention with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who described the unfolding state of affairs as a “manifestation of state terrorism”.

Minsk, which is backed by Russia, denies engineering the migrant disaster and as a substitute blames European powers and the United States for the plight of these stranded.

Moscow has charged the EU with accountability for the state of affairs and denounced Western plans for additional sanctions on Belarus, a rustic it regards as a strategic buffer in opposition to NATO, as unacceptable.

Russia has dispatched two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to patrol Belarusian airspace in a present of help for its ally.