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International protection in Poland: 1st quarter of 2020

The Office for Foreigners shared the newest data on the international protection in Poland. There were 899 applicants for international protection, including 567 first-time claims,  in the 1st quarter of 2020. This represents a 6% decrease in the number of asylum applications compared to the same period a year ago. People with Russian (594), Ukrainian (66), Tajik (53), Georgian (27) and Turkish (24) citizenships lodged the most of all applications.

The refugee status or subsidiary protection were granted to 74 people, mainly with Russian (28), Turkish (12) and Tajik (12) citizenships.  

The vast majority of cases ended with a negative decision (551) or decisions on discontinuing (574).   Decisions on discontinuing are issued in cases when the applicant leaved the country or his or her stay remains  unknown for the authorities. There were mainly people with Russian (290) and Ukrainian (128) citizenships who received the negative decisions. 

Amid coronavirus, 15th March 2020 Poland closed  its borders for foreigners. The entry is  limited and is available only in specific crossing points on foot or by car, air and train connections remain frozen. According to the announcement of the Board Guard the entry ban does not include people with permanent and temporary residence permit in Poland, holders of Poles’ Card, people who has work permit and members of family of the polish citizen. Although there were no official statement, human rights and migrants organisations said that the Board Guard denies to accept the asylum claims at border crossing. 

Human Constanta, social organisation based in Brest (Belarus) monitors the situation at the Terespol border station on the Belarusian-Polish border, where large numbers of asylum seekers, mostly from the Russian Republic of Chechnya, Tajikistan and Georgia try to apply for asylum in Poland. Before the COVID-19 pandemic Polish authorities routinely deny asylum seekers the right to apply for asylum and instead summarily return them to Belarus.

From January 1 to March 31, 2020 only in 73 cases, people were admitted to apply for protection in Poland, among applicants was the family which made 92 attempts to cross the border. There were also days when not a single person was allowed to cross the border.  As the epidemiologic state was introduced, the situation has radically deteriorated. Human Constanta stated that “Polish representatives stopped accepting applications for international protection on March 12, 2020, although the formal closure of the border should have started on March 15”. 

Kseniya Homel 
NIEM’s National Advocacy Officer
The European and Migration Policy Programme
Institute of Public Affairs

Ochrona międzynarodowa w I kwartale 2020 r. [27.04.2020]. 
Report on the situation with transit refugees on the Belarusian-Polish border (January – March 2020), [24.04.2020].