the essential Georgia Trismpioti, Humanitarian Diplomacy Advisor for the Red Cross, looks back on the current migration crisis on the borders of Poland.
We should be able to provide essential assistance and protection to those in need, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence. Unfortunately, like the other international organizations, the Red Cross is not present in this area declared inaccessible under the state of emergency. The Polish Red Cross has not been allowed to enter and this worries us, because we know that hundreds of people who are trapped between the two countries are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and protection. . There are also many migrants who have lost contact with their families.
How do you intervene?
The situation does not prevent the Red Cross from providing assistance to migrants who have managed to enter Polish territory. It also supplies local NGOs with humanitarian packages – warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags, hygiene products and even protective equipment against Covid – 19. Across the border, Belarusian Red Cross teams, accompanied by the authorities, managed to gain access to migrants and provide support to hundreds of people trapped between the two countries.
Isn’t the prohibition of access to humanitarian workers to the 3 km wide area along the border contrary to international humanitarian law?
People on the move must have access to humanitarian assistance and protection. Migrants, regardless of their legal status, should have safe and effective access to assistance and protection wherever they are. People crossing the border have only their clothes on their backs. Humanitarian organizations must be granted effective access to all people in need, regardless of their legal status, including in detention, at borders and in camps.
Are negotiations underway to gain access?
The Red Cross will continue the dialogue with the Polish authorities in favor of migrants’ rights in order to be able to deliver humanitarian assistance to thousands of people in need.