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NGOs alarm: Poland suspends asylum applications

Combating  the spread of Covid-19 EU countries implemented restrictions in cross-border movements and closed borders to non-EU nationals on March 17. Although States have a right to control the entry of non-nationals into their territory, human rights activists worry that such preventive measure in aim to ensure the public’s health can used by European governments to suspend the access to asylum procedures.

Such actions are not complying with the right to protection governed by the 1951 Geneva Convention. In the effect of such  preventive measures the precarious situation of many people feeing war, persecution and violence can significantly worsen.

20th of March the Polish Government introduced the state of epidemia in the country and already in few days, further restrictions were provided. According to the statement of The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration the external borders will maintain to be closed at least till the 13 of April.  

Social organizations working for migrants and refugees in Poland alarmed that alleging to the risk of spreading the coronavirus the Border Guard violate the principle of non-refoulement.  Since the restrictions were provided, the Border Guards deny the access to Poland seeking protection and suspend asylum applications.

At the border people are turned back with recommendations to send the declaration of intent to submit the application for protection by post or email to the closest Border Guard Office. The date of admission will be communicated to the applicant only after the state of emergency will be lifted. 

'Don't block asylum rights over coronavirus,' Grandi (UNHCR), [23.03.2020].
Fundamental rights of refugees and migrants at European borders, [27.03.2020]. 
List otwarty do Ministra Spraw Wewnętrznych i Administracji w sprawie dostępu do procedury uchodźczej oraz detencji cudzoziemców podczas zagrożenia epidemiologicznego, [27.03.2020].
Haven and hell: How the EU should protect refugees during the covid-19 crisis, [24.03.2020].
State of epidemic introduced in Poland. Over 400 coronavirus cases, [20.03.2020]. 
Koronawirus w Polsce: Przedłużenie zamknięcia granic do 13 kwietnia, [25.03.2020].