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Reply to Petition - Tensions at the Belorussian-Polish border region


Dear Petitioners,

Thank you for your letter, in which you express concerns about the situation along Poland-Belarus border. I have been asked to reply on behalf of the High Representative/Vice-President,Mr Josep Borrell.

Let me reassure you we remain deeply concerned by the dire conditions migrants are facing atthe external borders of the EU with Belarus and are closely monitoring the humanitariansituation therein. From the very onset, the EU reacted promptly and responded to the crisiswith different pillars of action.

The EU has allocated €700,000 in humanitarian funding to assist vulnerable people refugees andmigrants stranded at the border and inside the country. The EU also calls for continuous accessof humanitarian organisations from both sides to reach the refugees and migrants stranded atthe border and those located in various parts of the country and in order to provide them withurgent assistance.

The EU is always concerned about reports of push-backs and takes any such incidents veryseriously. Member States must fully and credibly investigate all allegations, establish the factsand take the necessary follow-up actions if and when wrongdoing is established. The situationat the Polish border remains challenging. The EU firmly rejects attempts to instrumentalisepeople for political purposes and is working closely with the Polish authorities to support themin this complex task. Orderly, firm border management in full respect of European asylum lawand migrants’ fundamental rights is the only effective and humane way to manage thissituation.

The EU also liaises with the UN and its specialised agencies to avoid worsening of thehumanitarian situation at the border. We also continue to explore how those who do not qualifyfor international protection can be safely returned to their countries of origin, with the supportof their national authorities. For those whose return is not viable, family reunification canrepresent a possible option to be considered in some cases, provided that the relevantrequirements are fulfilled. The EU monitors the implementation of the Family ReunificationDirective1 by Member States. In this context, the EU does not engage in individual applicationsbut encourages Member States, as explained in its 2014 guidance document2, to adopt agenerous interpretation of certain provisions and flexibility where appropriate.

The EU stands with the people trapped between border forces and we will do everything in ourpower to assist them. Fundamental values will continue to guide our actions, especially asregards the protection of migrants’ human rights.