Polish authorities have recently disclosed that the country facilitated approximately 6,000 returns between July 2023 and January 2024, marking the first time such information was made public. This revelation sheds light on a controversial practice implemented by the former Law and Justice (PiS) government in response to increased efforts at border crossings from Belarus, mainly by individuals from the Middle East, Asia and Africa.
During this period, data on returns were not specifically tracked, instead, border authorities categorized such incidents under the broader label of “prevented border crossings”. However, government figures show that in 2021, Polish border guards prevented 33,781 attempted border crossings, followed by 12,157 in 2022. The separate category of returns only appeared on July 5, 2023, in response to questions from the Razem party.
Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Duszczyk highlighted a significant drop in refusals during the current government’s tenure, with a noticeable decrease of 81% of individuals subject to forced departure from Polish territory compared to the previous year.
In response to ongoing delays along Poland’s borders, 101 non-governmental organizations, including members of the European Council for Refugees and Emigrants (ECRE), submitted a petition to Prime Minister Donald Tusk. They called on the prime minister to take decisive action to stop what they described as “gross violations of migrants’ rights” along the Polish-Belarusian border.
The report also highlights the ineffectiveness of the border wall built between Belarus and Poland, as it failed to prevent over 60% of irregular crossings into Poland. Despite the border wall, more than 30,000 individuals successfully made their way to Poland from Belarus during the first nine months of the previous year, with a significant number of these migrants then using Poland as a transit route to reach Germany.
Furthermore, the statistics underline the severity of the situation, showing that from January to September of the same year, Polish authorities arrested a total of 17,488 individuals from Belarus who attempted to enter Poland irregularly. These details shed light on the ongoing challenges faced by authorities at the Polish border and the impact on migrants seeking to enter the country.
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