Polish border guard officers patrol at the Kuznica-Bruzgi checkpoint reportedly push migrants back into Belarus | Photo:  REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
Polish border guard officers patrol at the Kuznica-Bruzgi checkpoint reportedly push migrants back into Belarus | Photo: REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

The most senior dignitary of Poland's powerful Catholic Church has endorsed the idea of assisting in taking in migrants. Wojciech Polak, the archbishop of Gniezno and primate of Poland, said that the church was willing to take in such people in need.

In the interview with Poland's Catholic news agency KAI, Wojciech Polak said he himself would be ready take in refugees in his archdiocese. He also said that giving a warm welcome alone was not enough.

"There needs to be a comprehensive system of assistance for integration," he stressed, adding that the support of the government was necessary in accomplishing this.

Read more: Stuck in Belarus: 'Go to Poland or go back to Iraq'

Poll: Polish Catholics reluctant to help migrants

Polak responded to polls indicating that Catholics in Poland are less willing to help refugees and migrants than atheists in the country: "If these polls reflect the actual beliefs of believers, it means to me that there's an even more urgent call to reaffirm the Gospel mandate to help those in need," he said.

He added that helping a person in need is a cornerstone of Christian belief.

Migrants, mainly from the Middle East, have been amassing at Poland's border with Belarus. Polish authorities accuse Belarusian autocrat Alexander Lukashenko of actively importing refugees from crisis regions to the EU's external border.

Read more: Migrants beaten in Belarus, UN reports

Accusations against both Poland and Belarus

Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has accused both Poland and Belarus of committing human rights violations in dealing with the migrants along the fortified border.

The accusations include statements saying that Poland is stopping and pushing refugees and migrants back across the border once they enter Poland without giving them an opportunity to lodge an asylum procedure -- a right that is protected under international law.

Belarus, in turn, is reportedly refusing to allow the migrants to return to the capital, Minsk, forcing them to remain stranded at the border in cold winter conditions.

Read more: Belarus, Poland deny UN access to border as migrants wait

with dpa

 

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