Protect people ‘fleeing war, violence’, UN refugee agency urges Poland 

24 July 2020

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) on Friday encouraged Poland to fall in line with its international obligations, and allow asylum seekers access. 

Anne-Marie Deutschlander, the acting regional Director for Europe of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), appealed to the Polish authorities to facilitate access to asylum procedures.

“People fleeing war, violence and persecution need protection”, she spelled out.

‘Dichotomy’ of obligations

This came one day after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that by denying access to asylum procedures, Poland violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Refusal to grant them entry at the border, without properly assessing their claims, is in dichotomy with the country’s obligations”, maintained the UN Official.

The deeply Catholic country has named security concerns for restricting entry to refugees.

News media cited a non-governmental organization in reporting that since 2016, the annual number of asylum applications has fallen from a 8,000 to 14,000 annually to 4,000 a year.

Managing borders

UNHCR has consistently reiterated the legitimate right of States to manage their borders. 

However, under international law, States are also obliged to protect those who seek asylum by permitting them access to territory and safe reception. 

This obligation is fulfilled by accepting an application for granting the refugee status from a foreigner, passing him or her across the border and providing a safe shelter for the time of examining his case, according to the UN refugee agency.

Applying for refugee status is a fundamental human right of those who flee their country for fear of persecution. 

It is guaranteed by the provisions of international law, including the Geneva Convention of 1951 to which Poland is a party.

UNHCR reminded that safe border management and providing safe haven for refugees are not mutually exclusive and that the agency remains ready to assist any Government in effectively combining the two.

 

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