UN welcomes Poland’s decision to admit refugees from Chechnya, Russian Federation
Just days after voicing concern over reports that Poland was closed to asylum-seekers from Chechnya, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today commended Warsaw for admitting those fleeing the war-ravaged Russian republic.
“UNHCR welcomes Poland’s decision last weekend to allow a group of 150 Russian Federation nationals from Chechnya to enter the country and seek asylum there,” agency spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva. “They are the first Chechens to be allowed to seek asylum in Poland in weeks.”
The Polish authorities had decided to bar Chechens from entering the country following the 23 October terrorist attack on a Moscow theatre by Chechen separatists. The decision sparked protests by human rights groups and UNHCR, which urged Poland not to close its doors to Chechen asylum-seekers.
“UNHCR hopes that the admission of 150 Chechens to Poland last weekend represents a permanent return of Poland’s policy of open doors to Chechen asylum seekers,” Mr. Janowski said.
This year alone, over 1,600 Russian Federation nationals – virtually all of them Chechens – sought asylum in Poland, according to the agency.
The spokesman voiced UNHCR’s continued concern about the situation in neighbouring Lithuania, which earlier this month barred 26 Chechens – mostly women and children – from entering and applying for asylum. “UNHCR hopes that Lithuania will follow Poland's example and reopen its doors to Chechens,” he said.