Amid migrant crisis, Poland will only allow official entry: Foreign Ministry

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The spokesperson for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed in a message on Wednesday that his government would not allow illegal entry through its border with Belarus, just as thousands of migrants – mostly from Iraq, Syria, and the Kurdistan Region – continue to grab international headlines.

During an interview with Kurdistan 24, Lukasz Jasina stressed that the only way that Poland will accept the immigrants is if they enter Poland through legal gateways not through neighboring countries by force.

“When a neighboring country uses poor people who came all the way, among them from Kurdistan, as an instrument of their aggressive hybrid war, we can not allow them to enter,” he charged, emphasizing that all immigrants who manage to come through an official border crossing “legally” would be welcomed.

He also stated that there is a large Kurdish community in his native land “especially in the city of Krakow,” which represents an “important part of our culture.”

However, he added, for those who are trying to enter the country illegally “we have one message, go back to your country.”

Earlier that day, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Spokesperson Jotiar Adil announced, “A number of Kurdistan Region citizens have become trafficking victims, adding, that ”those trafficking these citizens exploited them for financial gain and that some political parties have also used the crisis to spread “baseless propaganda” intended to discredit the KRG’s reputation.

Read More: KRG facilitates the ‘voluntary return’ of migrants stranded on Poland-Belarus border: Spokesperson

He referred to the longstanding policy of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is to refuse forced repatriations of their nationals, saying, “Only if they want to return to Kurdistan voluntarily will we will try to assist them.”

One week ago, a 14-year old Kurdish boy froze to death on the border of Belarus and Poland, and observers expect that more Kurdish migrants are likely to die as the temperature continues to plummet if nothing is done to protect them. So far, over 10 of them are known to have died due to the harsh winter conditions.

The Iraqi government has announced it is sending repatriation flights to the Belarussian capital Minsk to bring back any migrant who volunteers to return.

Read More: Iraq conducts first repatriation flight for citizens in Belarus

The Polish official went on to claim that “there is no struggle between the European Union and Belarus,” but rather “the aggression of the dictator Lukashenko, who is not recognized by the EU because he falsified the election and put a lot of his society in prison. H wants to get our recognition by using those people as a tool by sending them illegally to the border, telling them that the border will be open and they will be able to enter the EU.”

When asked about the possibility of letting the people stranded on the border between Poland and Belarus enter his nation, Jasina stressed that the only way they will be allowed to enter is “if they have a legal visa,” through airports and official border-crossings.

In response to a question about Polish forces being mobilized to guard the border, he said, “Every country in the world will behave like that when someone tries to cross the border illegally.”

In response to the EU’s position on Poland’s reaction, Jasina affirmed that “the European Union supports us, and the defense of our border,” as they support only the legal entrance to every country of the EU.

When asked about the possible solutions to the current crisis, Jasina said one would be to provide them with humanitarian aid, however Belarus refused to allow aid organizations to enter their country, despite the fact that “we asked them several times in the last three months.”

“Another solution is to liquidate the aggressive policy of Belarus in using those people as instruments and decides to send them back home or not,” Jasina added.

When asked about public claims that part of the reason for the immigrants' refusal of entry was their religious background, he replied, “We are one of the European countries with the longest history of Muslims and Christians living together. Just a few kilometers from Belarus' border, there exists the oldest mosques in Europe. Every Muslim is welcome in Poland, but through legal means.”   

Jasina also said that the Polish government is in constant contact with KRG and the Iraqi government, plus several additional countries, to help stop the flow of migrants to Minsk. 

Editing by John J. Catherine