John Brady TD calls for NGOs to be allowed humanitarian access to refugees on Polish border
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD, has called on Polish authorities to allow badly needed humanitarian aid to be delivered to refugees stranded along the EU – Belarussian border.
He warned that the refugees have become a pawn in attempts by the Belarussian leader Alexander Lukashenko to exert pressure to end sanctions on EU leaders.
Teachta Brady said:
“The actions of Belarus in the instrumentalization of innocent refugees, from Iraq, Yemen and Afghanistan, who are being tricked with false promises of political asylum in the EU, are despicable.
"These are families who seek nothing more than to escape violence and instability in their homelands in the hope of building a better life for their families.
"Instead, they are being tricked with false hope, and escorted to the border area with Poland. Where they are physically being forced across the border, in some instance being pushed over razor barbed wire.
"Polish authorities, who along with Latvia and Lithuania have declared a state of emergency, respond by with a policy of ‘push back’. Where refugees are forced back across the border.
"Up to twenty thousand are now caught in a no-man's-land, referred to as the death zone. They are trapped in often sub-zero temperatures. With no access to shelter, to food, or even water, or warm clothing.
"Because of the state of emergency in the region, neither NGOs, nor the media are allowed access to the border area.
“What is happening here is horrendous. I am calling for immediate access for NGOs to the border area, in order to deliver humanitarian aid.
"It is also imperative that the media be allowed to report on the plight of the refugees on the ground.
"The actions of Belarus are clearly political and they merit a proportionate political response by the EU. But the plight of the refugees along the Polish border is clearly a humanitarian issue and needs to be addressed as such.
"It flies in the face of the stated values of the EU to allow innocent civilians to be treated in such a manner on its doorstep, and to further allow restrictions on access and reporting on their abuse.
"Minister Coveney needs to act immediately to raise this matter with his EU counterparts.”