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The UN refugee agency expressed deep concern on Friday over legislation Poland passed this week allowing arbitrary rejection of migrants’ asylum claims

WARSAW, Poland – The United Nations refugee agency on Friday expressed deep concern over legislation Poland passed this week allowing the arbitrary rejection of migrants’ asylum claims.

The new legislation, approved by parliament on Thursday, came in response to the presence of hundreds of migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa at Poland’s border with Belarus. Poland, a member of the European Union, accuses its neighbor of encouraging migrants to cross the border, in response to sanctions imposed by the EU on the Belarusian regime.

In practice, Polish border guards have been pushing back migrants entering illegally from Belarus for weeks.

Christine Goyer, UNHCR’s representative in Poland, said in a statement that the new law “undermines the fundamental right to seek asylum enshrined in international and European law”.

Goyer said that restricting access to territory and asylum procedures for asylum seekers “contravenes the 1951 Refugee Convention, which clearly states that asylum seekers should not be penalized for crossing. irregular border ”.

She added that the practices “will only worsen the difficulties of those forced to flee”.

The new law must be approved by President Andrzej Duda.

Poland claims the Belarusian government is encouraging migrant arrivals by offering free tourist visas and easy flights to Belarus, as part of a “hybrid war” against the EU.

Polish border guards say there are now hundreds of illegal attempts to enter Poland per day, of which 682 were recorded on Thursday.

Conditions at the border are becoming increasingly dangerous for migrants as temperatures drop.

Polish police on Thursday reported the latest death among those trying to cross the border, a 24-year-old Syrian whose body was found in a field. Other migrants found dead there in previous weeks have succumbed to exhaustion.

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