Kazem Sharif Kazemi, speaking in an interview with the website of the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, referred to the refugee crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border and the EU’s tough stance towards them. While explaining the roots and causes of deteriorating relations between Belarus and the EU which led to the sanctions against the country, he noted: Imposition of sanctions forced the president of Belarus to take revenge and retaliatory measures, and the country declared that it no longer had the financial means and budget to deter migrants heading to Western European countries.
Saying that now there are between 3,000 to 4,000 asylum seekers behind the Polish border, and such situation has become the biggest crisis since 2015, he added: Belarus has declared that more than 10,000 such migrants are inside the country that have entered the country for the EU destination. On the other hand, lives of many of such asylum seekers are in danger as a result of the very difficult situation in which they find themselves. Evidence and reports show that due to lack of food and water and the severe cold weather, a dire situation has been created for those asylum seekers.
Heavy shadow of far-right tendencies on decision-making of EU institution
The expert on Europe affairs further noted that so far more than 10 of those people have died and some analysts have suggested that one-third of asylum seekers may die if the situation does not change, and said: The heavy shadow of the far right tendencies on decision-making of the EU institution and some of its leaders are visible.
Sharif Kazemi added: In this regard, the prime minister of Poland has proposed to build high walls along the border with Belarus with the help of the European Union to prevent entry of asylum seekers. As the cost of building such walls will be very high, the right-wing Polish prime minister has stated that the European Union should be a partner in financing construction of the wall; because Poland will become a barrier to the influx of asylum seekers into Western Europe.
Saying that some far-right parties have used the term “invasion of occupiers”, which is heard not only in Poland but also in many EU countries, including France, he added: Far-right groups once again liken presence of refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border to the “occupation of their lands by Muslims and foreigners”. Julien Odoul, spokesman for France’s far-right National Gathering Party, told BFMTV that asylum seekers be frozen to death on borders between Poland and Belarus but not be allowed to enter Europe.”
The expert on Europe affairs continued: Although such conditions and positions have led to strong criticism from some legal entities and real human rights defenders; many European countries were not only indifferent to it, but also continued to intensify action against asylum seekers under the influence of far-right thoughts and excitement; to the extent that Poland has deployed more than 18,000 troops on the border with Belarus and has greeted the asylum seekers with tear gas and water cannons.
Dire situation of asylum seekers, human rights abuses of European countries
Sharif Kazemi emphasized: Although the political problem between Belarus, the European Union and the West can be analyzed based on the available data from different angles; the main point and the high risk of death of the asylum seekers and human rights actions in European countries. Some European human rights organizations have also stated that measures of those countries violate their international obligations, so it can be said that those countries are accused of violating human rights treaties. This accusation has also been announced by human rights organizations and has been reflected in the media.
He referred to the restrictions imposed on the presence of journalists and doctors without borders among asylum seekers, and said that the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy had repeatedly stated that the Union sided with Poland and would impose more sanctions on Belarus.
The expert on Europe affairs further continued: Although escalation of the crisis has caused some differences among members of the Union and even within European countries there is polyphony, eventually the far right tendencies and partisan and national interests in the behavior of the Union and its countries are very strong and has endangered lives of many asylum seekers, and under such circumstances it can be said that we are witnessing the silence of international and European human rights institutions, and their few protests are not commensurate with the current situation.
Recalling that Europe has accused Belarus and Russia of misusing the tool of the immigrants to strike at the Union, Sharif Kazemi said that the Union’s political, security and even economic interests have led the Union to explicitly violate its human rights obligations.
US behavior caused a new wave of Afghan migration
Emphasizing the role of the media and legal and political activists in presenting a true picture of the situation of asylum seekers in Europe and human rights abuses against them, he noted the presence of asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen on the Polish border, saying: According to the acknowledgment of independent Western sources, situation in Afghanistan stems from the 20-year irresponsible presence of the United States and how it withdrew with collusion and agreement with the Taliban. In fact, this behavior of the United States caused a new wave of migration of Afghan people abroad.
Sharif Kazemi stressed: In this phenomenon, most European countries, although having taken dramatic and ostensible measures based on the limited acceptance of Afghan immigrants; they always tried to prevent immigrants from entering their territory with different policies. In fact, the main authorities in this situation are not paying the appropriate price for this crisis, and currently have placed themselves on the safe side of the crisis.
Saying that the problem of increased number of Afghan refugees is a problem at international level, he added: Given the large scale of the crisis and the possibility of a new wave of refugees, the first priority should be to maintain security and lives of the people and this situation must be managed before it occurs. The international community must be accountable with regard to the scale of the crisis, and this unresponsiveness has created many problems for various countries, including Iran.