The end of asylum in Europe?
What caused the crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border.
Wann: Donnerstag, den 2. Dezember, 18.30-20.00 Uhr
Wo: Livestream via YouTube
The border between Belarus and Poland has become the scene of a humanitarian disaster and a political deadlock in recent weeks. Thousands of people trying to reach the European Union without visas became trapped in a power struggle between the regime in Minsk and the Polish government. Some managed to cross the border. But many failed and were stranded in the border zone for weeks in freezing temperatures. Several people, including children, lost their lives.
According to European and international laws regarding asylum, Poland is obliged to examine the applications of people seeking protection, regardless of their irregular entry. But the Polish government reacted harshly. It has called the situation a "hybrid war", ordered thousands of soldiers to the border zone and declared a state of emergency in the region. Neither humanitarian aid nor journalists were allowed through. Numerous people apprehended on Polish territory were deported back to Belarus, although these "push backs" are illegal. Yet, Poland is not alone in its actions. It follows the footpaths of other European countries such as Greece and Croatia that have set an example. Such harsh border protection measures have also been regularly condoned by Brussels. The EU accuses the autocratic Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of smuggling refugees via Minsk to Europe in order to put pressure on the EU to lift its sanctions against his regime. It is also assumed that this Belarusian strategy is backed by the Russian government, highlighting the wider geopolitical dimension of the conflict.
What courses of action does Europe have to deal with such situations? Does the right of asylum at the EU's external borders still apply, or is it only on paper? Why do people leave their homes and come to the border of Europe via Belarus? What is the situation of people and organisations in Poland who want to help refugees? And how can the causes of their flight be tackled in the regions they come from?
We will discuss this with our guests:
Inga Rogg is Middle East Correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung (NZZ). She has lived and worked in the Middle East for more than twenty years, covering wars, uprisings, and political, economic and social transformation.
Marta Górczyńska is a human rights lawyer working for the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights in Warsaw. She specialises in the field of international and EU law on asylum and migration.
Zeynep Yanaşmayan is co-head of the Migration Department at the DeZIM Institute. She is a social scientist with a focus on migration research.
Daniel Bax, Head of Communication and Knowledge Transfer at the DeZIM-Institute.
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