STOCKHOLM, October 18. /TASS/. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly has called on the governments of Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to pool efforts to ensure access to food, water, medical services and temporary shelter for the people trapped in the border area between their countries.
"Regardless of why and how these persons have arrived in this border area, we have a duty to protect them," the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly press service quoted Sereine Mauborgne, Chair of the Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, as saying. "We simply cannot allow children, women and men to suffer in dire conditions in the woods and being used as pawns in a political game. This clearly constitutes inhuman and degrading treatment."
The Assembly called on Poland to respect the migrants’ right to shelter and go to court. "We appeal to Polish authorities to lift the state of emergency in order to allow for the provision of humanitarian and legal assistance to these persons," Michael Link, Vice-Chair of the human rights committee, noted. "Allowing access of humanitarian organizations and the media would also serve the general public interest of transparency. The state of emergency which has been extended until the end of November is not only disproportionate to the situation, it also punishes local communities which rely upon cross-border trade and tourism."
Kristian Vigenin, who chairs the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration, stressed that all people have the right to seek asylum, regardless of the way they entered the country, and the right to have legal assistance. He stressed that the principle of non-refoulement applies, irrespective of the migration status or a method of entry. "Ensuring respect of the right to asylum and protecting the state’s borders are not mutually exclusive," he said. "In the face of challenges presented by irregular migration, it is important to develop a co-ordinated policy response with all countries along the migration path to prevent further irregular arrivals rather than penalize the migrants themselves."
Since early August, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania have been seeing a dramatic influx of illegal migrants from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen arriving from Belarus. By today, at least seven people have reportedly died in the border areas of these countries.