Dozens of international humanitarian organisations signed a joint appeal calling on the EU to "restore the rights and values at the borders of Europe" in the face of the situation migrants are experiencing at the Belarus border.
Dozens of international humanitarian organizations said in a joint statement that they are "shocked by the continuing humanitarian crisis on the borders between the EU and Belarus, which causes immense suffering and has led to the deaths of at least ten people."
The organizations, which referred to themselves in the joint statement as "European civil society and specialized organizations dealing with asylum, migration, humanitarian assistance and human rights," include the Association for Juridical Studies on Immigration (ASGI), Amnesty International, Centro Astalli, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), Intersos, Save The Children, and Oxfam International.
"In fully condemning the actions of the government of Belarus, we urge a response from the European Union, EU Member States and all relevant European and international organizations that is in line with European and international legal obligations and shared minimum standards of dignity," the organizations said.
At the border 'many highly vulnerable groups'
"The people at the centre of the crisis are exploited within the security conflict between the EU and Belarus, but these people are not in themselves a security threat, and should not be seen or treated by either side as if they were a weapon. In fact, all accounts suggest the presence of many highly vulnerable groups among the people involved in these events, including pregnant women, families with small children and elderly or injured people," the associations said, highlighting that there are also "those who fled war and persecution from Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq."
"Despite the serious tensions existing between the states involved, the situation, like many others at the borders of the EU, is manageable and should be faced with perspective."
The organisations' proposals
In the joint statement, the organizations proposed various responses affecting the various elements of the crisis.
One proposal was to guarantee access to the right of asylum at the borders in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which "should be immediately restored in both its legal and practical form," the organizations said.
They also proposed guaranteeing humanitarian access to those affected, "so that humanitarian organizations can reach them and provide assistance;" repealing national "non-compliant asylum" legislation in Lithuania, Poland and Latvia; countering the repression of civil society, the media and law professionals; and placing human rights standards and transparency at the heart of cooperation with third countries.
"The EU and its member states must cope with the border crisis in accordance with their international and EU legal obligations. The current political and legal framework, if applied, provides all the elements to manage this situation in compliance with rights, in a calm and well-managed manner. We are alarmed to hear that proposals are being drawn up that could allow unjustifiable exceptions to EU and international law," the organizations concluded.