The NGO coalition PRAB (Protecting Rights at Borders), of which we are members, has just published another report on the situation of migrants attempting to cross EU borders while seeking international protection and security. However, many are faced with the practice of pushback, i.e. expulsion from the territory of the country they wish to enter, without consideration of their individual situation and requirements and despite their appeals for protection.

PRAB reports document the practice of pushback in eight countries: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Lithuania, Northern Macedonia, Poland, Serbia and Italy. In these countries, in 2023, the coalition documented pushbacks against more than 28,609 male and female migrants. Nevertheless, there are many more pushbacks in practice.

With reference to Poland, the latest PRAB report indicated, among other things, that:

  1. From September to December 2023, Grupa Grsnics documented 268 pushbacks (mainly Syrian nationals), including eleven children – also unaccompanied. Moreover, 61 individuals indicated that they had been returned to Belarus more than once. During the same period, the Border Guard issued orders to leave the territory of the Republic of Poland (pursuant to Article 303b of the Act on Foreigners, which has been criticised – including by Polish courts) to 73 migrants, including 47 from Syria or Iran.
  2. Migrants attempting to cross the Polish-Belarusian border continue to face violence and inhuman and degrading treatment from both Polish and Belarusian authorities. The PRAB report highlights, for example, the case of the shooting of a Syrian citizen by a Polish soldier patrolling the Belarusian border in November 2023. Another Syrian national indicated that persons patrolling the border on the Polish side had treated him with water, to which – as it turned out after drinking it – pepper gas had been added. From September to December 2023, Grupa Granica also confirmed two cases of a migrant being returned to Belarus while in a Polish hospital.
  3. As of October 3, 2023, controls were reinstated and traffic restrictions were introduced at the Polish-Slovak border. The report describes cases of migrants who were trapped on the Slovak side of the border or undertook irregular border crossings due to these controls. From October to December 2023, 47 Syrian nationals were refused entry at this section of the Polish border.

The latest PRAB report can be viewed HERE.

The humanitarian crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border continues despite the change of government. In January 2024, more than 100 NGOs, including our Association, as well as hundreds of individuals called on the Prime Minister to stop pushbacks. We also joined the Stop the Inhumanity at Europe’s Borders campaign.