Tagarchief: Human Rights

Astrid Essed insists: Red Cross, please give me information about your present [2022] involvement with the refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists. Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Getty Images
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

Fallen tree in the Białowieża Forest

Bialowieza National Park in Poland0029.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest

REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS

War of Russia against Ukraine. War refugees in Ukraine. KYIV, UKRAINE - Mar. 05, 2022: War of Russia against Ukraine. Women, old people and children evacuated stock images

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES

ASTRID ESSED INSISTS: RED CROSS, PLEASE GIVE ME INFORMATION

ABOUT YOUR PRESENT [2022] INVOLVEMENT WITH REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS

INTRODUCTION:

The attentive reader may have red my Letter to the International Red Cross

about their involvement with refugees, who are [sinds last year, 2021] trapped

between the borders of Poland and Belarus.

I especially wrote this letter, since I was, based on reliable information, under

the impression, that the Red Cross, however great their involvement

with the Poland-Belarus refugees in 2021 [for which I’ve complimented them],

may possibly have had less attention for the trapped refugees, due to the Ukraine crisis. 

See my Letter under note 1, below, in which I posed some questions

regarding the Red Cross involvement in 2022. 

To my pleasant surprise, the Committee of the Red Cross responded

my mail, despite their busy time schedule and their answer partly satisfied me,

regarding their showed involvement with those refugees.

However, the joint statement they sent me, regarding their involvement

was from november 2021 [2] and mentioned nothing about their PRESENT,

2022 involvement.

Reason for me to write the Red Cross again, to ask again about their involvement with the trapped refugees in 2022!

In the middle of all right attention to the Ukrainian refugees and their desperate

flight for the Russian invasion, other refugees, like those trapped in the middle

of the no man’s land somewhere between Poland and Belarus, must not

be forgotten.

I see it as my task to remind the International Red Cross to that.

Because even good organisations can make mistakes

First the notes

Then my first mail to the Red Cross [A]

Then the answer of the Red Cross [B]

Below the answer, my reaction to the answer to the Red

Cross, in text and mail [C]

ENJOY, READERS!

ASTRID ESSED

NOTES

[1]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, THE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES,

TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS, DO YOU TREAT THEM

WITH EQUAL ATTENTION, RED CROSS?

ASTRID ESSED

[2]


ICRC AND IFCR ON MIGRATION CRISIS AT THE BORDERS

BETWEEN BELARUS, POLAND, LITHUANIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

18 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-ifrc-migration-crisis-borders

A

FIRST ASTRID ESSED MAIL TO THE RED CROSS

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, THE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES,

TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS, DO YOU TREAT THEM

WITH EQUAL ATTENTION, RED CROSS?

ASTRID ESSED

B

ANSWER OF THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS TO THE

FIRST ASTRID ESSED MAIL [SEE ABOVE, UNDER A]

On Tuesday, June 7, 2022, 07:50:49 PM GMT+2, GVA Inquiries Mailbox <inquiries@icrc.org> wrote:

Dear Astrid

Thank you for your sharing your concerns with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and apologies for the delayed answer. We are receiving hundreds of messages and doing our best to answer all of them.

We took note of your opinions and we highly value your feedback about our work. 

We work in over 100 contexts affected by armed conflict and violence. Our largest operations are in countries such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Ethiopia. In Ukraine, our work began in 2014 when the conflict started, and our presence in the country has grown since 24 February. 

As you mention in your message, the horror of the crisis in Ukraine shouldn’t make the world forget that people suffering continues in other parts of the world, where millions are still relying on humanitarian assistance to access their basic needs.   

We have followed the situation you mention closely and have supported the work that the National Red Cross Societies, their volunteers and other organizations are doing to help refugees. In 2021 we issued this joint press release: ICRC and IFRC on migration crisis at the borders between Belarus, Poland, Lithuania and other countries. In the statement, we expressed our alarm about the humanitarian tragedy unfolding and asked for unrestricted access for all organizations.

If you have specific questions about the situation of refugees, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) may be able to provide more information in this regard.

For more information about our work in Ukraine, please visit our website Humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Information for people affected by the conflict is available here.

We hope this has helped clarify your concerns

Sincerely yours, 

The ICRC team

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

19, avenue de la Paix, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

www.icrc.org

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok

C

ASTRID ESSED REACTION TO THE ANSWER OF THE INTERNATIONAL

RED CROSS [SEE UNDER B]

ANSWER IN TEXT AND IN ORIGINAL MAIL

C1 

IN TEXT

TO:

THE ICRC TEAM

International Committee of the Red Cross

Subject:

Reaction to your mail dd 7 june and a repetition of my question

about the present [2022] Red Cross involvement regarding the situation

of the refugees, who are trapped between the borders of Poland and Belarus,

since your answer to me was referring to the situation of 2021 only.

See also my earlier mail to you on which you have responded

Dear Committee,

I appreciate your relatively quick reaction on my recent mail [27 may 2022],

knowing your very busy time schedule.

I also appreciate your concern, following my mail on 27 may, that the attention for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine should not overshadow your concern

for other humanitarian drama’s.

In my letter I especially mentioned the dramatic humanitarian needs of

those refugees, who are still trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland.I quote from your mail:”

As you mention in your message, the horror of the crisis in Ukraine shouldn’t make the world forget that people suffering continues in other parts of the world, where millions are still relying on humanitarian assistance to access their basic needs. ”I had noticed that before, since I mentioned inmy mail to you the statement of mr F Rocca, presidentof the International Federation of Red Cross and Red CrescentSocieties, that there should be no difference in the receptionand protection of refugees, whether they are Ukrainians orcoming from other countries [1]
And in my former mail, I’ve also referred to the Good Work, done by the American Red Cross and the Finnish Red Cross  and doubtless other sections of the Red Cross regarding the refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus [2] and I complimented you with that.
As reaction on my mail to you, you referred to your Joint PressRelease of 2021, titled: ”ICRC and IFCR on migration crisisat the borders between Belarus, Lithuania and other countries” [3]I was impressed, as by the Work of the American Red Cross andthe Finnish Red Cross and I fully supported your statement,especially this part [I quote you]”

All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.” [4]

True humanity and something the EU leaders should

reflect on.

HOWEVER:

[And reason for my reaction on your answer to me]

That is NOT what I asked you for.

Since you referred to the situation in 2021 and I am

anxious to know about PRESENT the situation, the

situation in 2022, of the

refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus [and

as I now understand, also Lithuania]

Perhaps I didn’t make that clear in my first mail to you?

Then I will do it now and repeat my questions:Based on the Statement of Amnesty Internationalon 11th of april 2022, the situation of thosetrapped between the Poland-Belarus border is direSee their statement: 

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

AND the Amnesty report ”POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS”  [5]

MY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RED CROSS INVOLVEMENT

WITH THE MENTIONED REFUGEES IN 2022:

My questions refer to the PRESENT, 2022 ICRC involvement with

the refugees, who are trapped between the Poland-Belarus border,

as mentioned in my first mail [6]

I REPEAT:

 I had the impression, that on this moment, the main attention

of the International Cross goes to the Ukrainian refugees [7] and that the

trapped refugees between Poland and Belarus are somewhat forgotten.

When I am wrong, please send me the information about

your involvement in the no one land between those borders on this

moment, 2022.

When I am NOT wrong, please explain to me, why the International

Red Cross shows less attention to those refugees:

Are you being hindered in your activities, something volunteers have experienced in the past months? [8]

And if that’s so, what did you do, as an International Organisation, to

address to this situation?

Did you write to the Polish and Belarussian authorities?

Did you gave press conferences about this?

Did you try to visit the Polish detention centres, where, according to the

information of Amnesty International, the border refugees are being

mistreated and denied their right to asylum? [9]

If not, why not?

Because you are hindered in your activities?

And again the question:

If you are hindered in your activities, what did you do to protest and get access anyway, as

is your right and obligation as the International Red Cross?

Those are my questions, in short

I would appreciate your reaction, but if you are pressed with time,

the only thing I want is to recall the dire situation those refugees

are in and to urge your humanitarian involvement with them, also

now, in 2022, since their situation doesn’t seem to be more humane now.

Thank you for your involvement

Kind greetings

Astrid Essed

Amsterdam 

The Netherlands

NOTES

[1]

IFRC PRESIDENT: ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY SHOULD NOT

BE DECIDING FACTORS IN SAVING LIVES

16 MAY 2022

PRESS RELEASE

https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/ifrc-president-ethnicity-and-nationality-should-not-be-deciding-factors-saving-lives

New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.”

On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route.

“We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.”

The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services.

At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making.

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.”

[2]

AMERICAN RED CROSS

THOUSANDS AT BELARUS BORDER IN NEED

OF HUMANITARIAN AID

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2021/thousands-at-belarus-border-in-need-of-humanitarian-aid.html

November 15, 2021

The Red Cross is urgently providing relief efforts as thousands of people risk their lives in freezing conditions along the Belarus-Poland border. At least 10 people have died and an estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border between Belarus and neighboring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges unhindered access to the border be provided to help the men, women and children risking their lives for a safer future. 

Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since last week, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. Staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation, sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children. Assistance was also provided for three children who were hospitalized.

“We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises.

“While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said.

The Polish Red Cross has been responding to this crisis for several weeks, delivering blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in provinces near the border with food, water and hygiene kits, as well as providing first aid and helping people trace family members.

Lithuanian Red Cross teams have also been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centers, volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards.

IFRC is in the process of providing the Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross with emergency funding to support the migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services.

“Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded. 

THE FINISH RED CROSS

THE RED CROSS IS HELPING MIGRANTS STRUGGLING IN

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AT THE EU’S EASTERN BORDER

24 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.redcross.fi/news/2021/the-red-cross-is-helping-migrants-struggling-in-dangerous-conditions-at-the-eus-eastern-border/

The situation of migrants trying to enter the EU at the border of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus is alarming. Thousands of migrants have been stuck on the border region since early autumn. The situation of people sleeping without shelter is expected to worsen as the winter approaches.

The Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian Red Cross organisations are helping migrants at the borders by distributing food, clean water, hygiene supplies, clothes and blankets and by offering essential health care.

The health of the people sleeping rough is at continuous risk. At least 10 people are known to have died. Among them, a 14-year-old boy who died of hypothermia.

“There are hundreds of children at the border, many of whom have been separated from their families. The are also pregnant women and disabled people among the migrants. Their situation is worsening by the hour as the crisis drags on and nights become colder,” says the Director of International Operations at the Finnish Red Cross Tiina Saarikoski.

“All states are obliged to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through to its target. People have the right to necessary protection, care and safety, regardless of whether they are granted the right to stay in the country or not.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross helps migrants establish contact with their family members. 

The Finnish Red Cross maintains preparedness for large-scale migration as part of its continuous readiness. As agreed with the authorities, the Red Cross is permanently prepared to establish and maintain reception centres and temporary accommodation units at the request of the authorities.

The Finnish Red Cross has not received official requests in relation to the situation in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. 
 
“The most important thing right now is to deliver necessary aid to the migrants in unsafe conditions and allow humanitarian operators to provide aid,” Saarikoski emphasises. 

[3]

ICRC AND IFCR ON MIGRATION CRISIS AT THE BORDERS

BETWEEN BELARUS, POLAND, LITHUANIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

18 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-ifrc-migration-crisis-borders

Unrestricted and safe humanitarian access urgently needed to save lives and alleviate suffering.

STATEMENT18 NOVEMBER 2021

Budapest/Geneva – November 18, 2021 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are alarmed by the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. At least 10 people are known to have died, including a 14-year-old boy due to hypothermia. The situation is set to worsen with the most serious winter weather yet to arrive.

IFRC has allocated more than 1 million Swiss Francs to Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff are assisting thousands of vulnerable people with food, water, blankets and vital medical assistance. ICRC is complementing the response, providing support and additional technical expertise to Red Cross partners, notably to keep migrants in contact with their relatives and other protection-related issues.

Birgitte Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said, “There are extremely vulnerable people at the border, including people with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of children – many of them without a parent or family member. They have been sleeping rough in freezing conditions for many days now.”

“Our volunteers have been able to provide some assistance, but many are still hungry and cold. These are mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, people whose lives matter, and they should be protected and treated with compassion and dignity.”

Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said: “To protect people’s lives, health and dignity, as well as ease suffering and prevent further tragedy, all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other humanitarian organisations need immediate, unrestricted access to all migrants, including at borders.”

“The ICRC is providing support and additional technical expertise to our Red Cross partners, on reuniting people with separated family members and other protection-related issues.”

All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.

[4]

”All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.”

ICRC AND IFCR ON MIGRATION CRISIS AT THE BORDERS

BETWEEN BELARUS, POLAND, LITHUANIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

18 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-ifrc-migration-crisis-borders

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 3

[5]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

Poland/Belarus: New evidence of abuses highlights ‘hypocrisy’ of unequal treatment of asylum-seekers 

  • Authorities violating rights of asylum-seekers, including strip searches and other degrading treatment, in overcrowded detention centres
  • Some people forcibly sedated during return
  • Pushbacks and arbitrary detention in stark contrast with welcome shown to those fleeing Ukraine
  • Spokespeople available

The Polish authorities have arbitrarily detained nearly two thousand asylum-seekers who crossed into the country from Belarus in 2021, and subjected many of them to abuse, including strip searches in unsanitary, overcrowded facilities, and in some cases even to forcible sedation and tasering, Amnesty International said today.

Additionally, after a hiatus during winter, more asylum-seekers are now trying to enter Poland from Belarus, where they are unable to access further funds due to international sanctions and risk harassment or apprehension by Belarusian police due their irregular immigration status. At the Polish border they face razor wire fences and repeated pushbacks by border guards sometimes up to 20-30 times.

“This violent and degrading treatment stands in stark contrast to the warm welcome Poland is offering to displaced people arriving from Ukraine. The behaviour of the Polish authorities smacks of racism and hypocrisy. Poland must urgently extend its admirable compassion for those entering the country from Ukraine to all those crossing its borders to seek safety.”

Arbitrary detention and abysmal detention conditions

Polish border guards have systematically rounded up and violently pushed back people crossing from Belarus, sometimes threatening them with guns. The vast majority of those who have been fortunate enough to avoid being pushed back to Belarus and to apply for asylum in Poland are forced into automatic detention, without a proper assessment of their individual situation and the impact detention would have on their physical and mental health. They are often held for prolonged and indefinite periods of time in overcrowded centres that offer little privacy and only limited access to sanitary facilities, doctors, psychologists, or legal assistance.

Almost all of the people Amnesty International interviewed said they were  traumatized after fleeing areas of conflict and being trapped for months on the Belarusian-Polish border. They also suffered from serious psychological problems, including anxiety, insomnia, depression and frequent suicidal thoughts, undoubtedly exacerbated by their unnecessary metres. For most, psychological support was unavailable.

Retraumatized inside a military base

Many of the people who Amnesty spoke to had been in Wędrzyn detention centre, which holds up to 600 people. Overcrowding is particularly acute in this facility, where up to 24 men are detained in rooms measuring just eight square metres.

In 2021, the Polish authorities decreased the minimum required space for foreign detainees from three square meters per person to just two. The Council of Europe minimum standard for personal living space in prisons and detention centres is four square meters per person.

People held in Wędrzyn recounted how guards greeted new detainees  by saying “welcome to Guantánamo”. Many of them were victims of torture in their home countries before enduring harrowing experiences both in Belarus and on the border of Poland. The detention centre in Wędrzyn forms part of an active military base. The facility’s barbed wire walls — and the persistent sound of armoured vehicles, helicopters and gunfire from military exercises in the area — only serves to retraumatize them.

In Lesznowola Detention Centre, detainees said that guards’ treatment left them feeling dehumanized. The staff called detainees by their case numbers instead of using their names and meted out excessive punishments, including isolation, for simple requests, such as asking for a towel or more food.

Nearly all those interviewed reported consistently disrespectful and verbally abusive behaviour, racist remarks and other practices that indicated psychological ill-treatment. 

Men who Amnesty International interviewed uniformly  complained about the manner in which body searches were  conducted. When people were  transferred from one detention centre to another, they were forced to undergo a strip search at each facility, even though they were in state custody at all times. In Wędrzyn, people recounted abusive searches. For example, all newly admitted foreigners are kept together in a room, required to remove all of their clothes and ordered to perform squats longer than necessary for a legitimate check.

Violent forcible returns

Amnesty International interviewed several people who were forcibly returned as well as some who avoided return and remain in detention in Poland. Many said the Polish border guards who conducted the returns coerced them into signing documents in Polish that they suspected included incriminating information in order to justify their returns. They also said that, in some cases, border guards used excessive force, such as tasers, restrained people with handcuffs, and even sedated those being returned. 

Authorities attempted to forcibly return Yezda, a 30-year old Kurdish woman , with her husband and three small children. After being told that the family would be returned to Iraq, Yezda panicked and screamed and pleaded with the guards not to take them. She threatened to take her life and became extremely agitated. “I knew I could not go back to Iraq and I was ready to die in Poland. While I was crying like that, two guards restrained me and my husband, tied our hands behind our backs, and a doctor gave us an injection that made us very weak and sleepy. My head was not clear, but I could hear my children, who were in the room with us, crying and screaming.”

“We were asked to go through the airport security and the guards told us to behave on the plane. But I refused to go. I remember noticing that I didn’t even have any shoes on, as in the chaos at the camp, they slipped of my feet. My head was not clear, and I couldn’t see my husband or the children, but I remember that they forced me on the plane that was full of people. I was still crying and pleading with the police not to take us.” Yezda said that she broke her foot as she fought the guards who tried to put her on the plane. Yezda and her family were returned to Warsaw after the airline refused to take them to Iraq. They remain in a camp in Poland for now.

Volunteers and activists have been barred from accessing the border of Poland and Belarus, and some have even faced prosecution for trying to help people cross the border. In March, activists who had helped people both on Poland’s borders with Ukraine and with Belarus were detained for providing life-saving assistance to refugees and migrants on the Belarussian border, and now face potentially serious charges.

Stranded at the border

On 20 March, the Belarusian authorities reportedly evicted close to 700 refugees and migrants, including many families with young children and people suffering from severe illnesses and disabilities, from the warehouse in the Belarusian village of Bruzgi which had accommodated several thousand people in 2021.

People who were evicted from the warehouse suddenly found themselves stranded in the forest, trying to survive in sub-zero temperatures without shelter, food, water or access to medical care. Many remain in the forest and experience daily abuse from the Belarusian border guards, who use dogs and violence to force people to cross the border into Poland.

“Hundreds of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and other parts of the world remain stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland. The Polish government must immediately stop pushbacks. They are illegal no matter how the government tries to justify them. The international community – including the EU – must demand that those trapped on Poland’s border with Belarus be afforded the same access to EU territory as any other group seeking refuge in Europe,” said Jelena Sesar.

END OF THE ARTICLE

REPORT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

The rapid relief effort at the border, exceptional generosity of civil society and willingness of Polish authorities to receive people fleeing from Ukraine contrast starkly with the Polish government’s hostility toward refugees and migrants who have arrived in the country via Belarus since July 2021. Hundreds of people who crossed from Belarus have been arbitrarily detained in Poland in appalling conditions and without access to a fair asylum proceeding. Many have been forcibly returned to their countries of origin, some under sedation. In addition, hundreds of people remain stranded inside Belarus and face increasingly desperate conditions.

END OF THIS PIECE

FULL REPORT

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/EUR3754602022ENGLISH.pdf

[6]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, THE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES

AND THE REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS/

DO YOU TREAT THEM WITH EQUAL ATTENTION, RED CROSS?

ASTRID ESSED

[7]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS 

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN UKRAINE AND NEIGHBOURING

COUNTRIES

https://www.icrc.org/en/humanitarian-crisis-ukraine

IFRC SCALES UP CASH ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE IMPACTED

BY CONFLICT IN UKRAINE

23 MAY 2022

https://www.ifrc.org/article/ifrc-scales-cash-assistance-people-impacted-conflict-ukraine

Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.

IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:

“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”

The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.

The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.

“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.

Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.

Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”

During the past three months:
  • Together, we have reached more than 2.1 million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
  • Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we’ve set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
  • In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
  • 71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.

[8]

MEDICS LEAVE POLAND=BELARUS BORDER WITHOUT

REACHING MIGRANTS

https://www.dw.com/en/medics-leave-poland-belarus-border-without-reaching-migrants/a-60353514

Doctors Without Borders removed its team on the Belarus-Poland border after Warsaw blocked access to migrants trying to enter the European Union. Camped in harsh conditions, several people have died on the EU’s doorstep.

Despite knowing people along the Belarus-Poland border were “in desperate need of medical and humanitarian assistance,” the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it withdrew its emergency response team from the region.

“Since October, MSF has repeatedly requested access to the restricted area and the border guard posts in Poland, but without success,” Frauke Ossig, the charity’s emergency coordinator for Poland and Lithuania, said on Thursday.

“We know that there are still people crossing the border and hiding in the forest, in need of support, but while we are committed to assisting people on the move wherever they may be, we have not been able to reach them in Poland,” Ossig added.

MSF said it was concerned that restricting access to major aid organizations could result in more deaths and such policies were “another example of the EU deliberately creating unsafe conditions for people to seek asylum at its borders.”

While many of the migrants received shelter in a logistics center, a number of people are reported to have died in the freezing, harsh conditions along the border.

Why can’t aid groups reach migrants and asylum-seekers?

On December 1, Poland’s Interior Ministry extended a state of emergency that prohibits all non-residents, including journalists and non-governmental aid groups, from the border area.

“People are being attacked and beaten at the hands of border guards, and yet state officials continue to allow the practice of pushing people between borders knowing that such maltreatment continues,” MSF said.

With thousands of people on the Belarusian side of the 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch, Poland built a barbed-wire fence that it intends to replace with a permanent barrier and sent thousands of soldiers to the border, leaving the migrants stuck in camps in no man’s land and unable to apply for asylum in the European Union.

Polish border guards accused of illegal ‘pushbacks’

Polish border guards have been accused of forcibly pushing migrants and asylum-seekers back into Belarus — a move that breaches international law. At least 21 people have lost their lives in the attempt in 2021, MSF reported.

In December, the Polish civil society group Salam Lab reported that five Syrian and one Palestinian who managed to find their way outside Poland’s exclusion zone said they had been pushed back to Belarus several times by Polish authorities.

EU nations Latvia and Lithuania, which also share borders with Belarus, have also reinforced their border security and declared a state of emergency. MSF said it had not received access to migrants at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East to attempt to enter the EU through Belarus.

Belarus denies this and has urged the EU to take in the migrants.

“The current situation is unacceptable and inhumane,” Ossig said. “People have the right to seek safety and asylum and should not be illegitimately pushed back to Belarus.”

[9]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 5

C2

IN MAIL

From: Astrid Essed <astridessed@yahoo.com>

To: GVA Inquiries Mailbox <inquiries@icrc.org>

Sent: Sunday, June 12, 2022, 12:40:24 PM GMT+2

Subject: Re: Questions about the International Red Cross attitude against Ukrainian refugees versus refugees trapped between Belarus and Poland

TO:

THE ICRC TEAM

International Committee of the Red Cross

Subject:

Reaction to your mail dd 7 june and a repetition of my question

about the present [2022] Red Cross involvement regarding the situation

of the refugees, who are trapped between the borders of Poland and Belarus,

since your answer to me was referring to the situation of 2021 only.

See also my earlier mail to you on which you have responded

Dear Committee,

I appreciate your relatively quick reaction on my recent mail [27 may 2022],

knowing your very busy time schedule.

I also appreciate your concern, following my mail on 27 may, that the attention for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine should not overshadow your concern

for other humanitarian drama’s.

In my letter I especially mentioned the dramatic humanitarian needs of

those refugees, who are still trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland.I quote from your mail:”

As you mention in your message, the horror of the crisis in Ukraine shouldn’t make the world forget that people suffering continues in other parts of the world, where millions are still relying on humanitarian assistance to access their basic needs. ”I had noticed that before, since I mentioned inmy mail to you the statement of mr F Rocca, presidentof the International Federation of Red Cross and Red CrescentSocieties, that there should be no difference in the receptionand protection of refugees, whether they are Ukrainians orcoming from other countries [1]
And in my former mail, I’ve also referred to the Good Work, done by the American Red Cross and the Finnish Red Cross  and doubtless other sections of the Red Cross regarding the refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus [2] and I complimented you with that.
As reaction on my mail to you, you referred to your Joint PressRelease of 2021, titled: ”ICRC and IFCR on migration crisisat the borders between Belarus, Lithuania and other countries” [3]I was impressed, as by the Work of the American Red Cross andthe Finnish Red Cross and I fully supported your statement,especially this part [I quote you]”

All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.” [4]

True humanity and something the EU leaders should

reflect on.

HOWEVER:

[And reason for my reaction on your answer to me]

That is NOT what I asked you for.

Since you referred to the situation in 2021 and I am

anxious to know about PRESENT the situation, the

situation in 2022, of the

refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus [and

as I now understand, also Lithuania]

Perhaps I didn’t make that clear in my first mail to you?

Then I will do it now and repeat my questions:Based on the Statement of Amnesty Internationalon 11th of april 2022, the situation of thosetrapped between the Poland-Belarus border is direSee their statement: 

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

AND the Amnesty report ”POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS”  [5]

MY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RED CROSS INVOLVEMENT

WITH THE MENTIONED REFUGEES IN 2022:

My questions refer to the PRESENT, 2022 ICRC involvement with

the refugees, who are trapped between the Poland-Belarus border,

as mentioned in my first mail [6]

I REPEAT:

 I had the impression, that on this moment, the main attention

of the International Cross goes to the Ukrainian refugees [7] and that the

trapped refugees between Poland and Belarus are somewhat forgotten.

When I am wrong, please send me the information about

your involvement in the no one land between those borders on this

moment, 2022.

When I am NOT wrong, please explain to me, why the International

Red Cross shows less attention to those refugees:

Are you being hindered in your activities, something volunteers have experienced in the past months? [8]

And if that’s so, what did you do, as an International Organisation, to

address to this situation?

Did you write to the Polish and Belarussian authorities?

Did you gave press conferences about this?

Did you try to visit the Polish detention centres, where, according to the

information of Amnesty International, the border refugees are being

mistreated and denied their right to asylum? [9]

If not, why not?

Because you are hindered in your activities?

And again the question:

If you are hindered in your activities, what did you do to protest and get access anyway, as

is your right and obligation as the International Red Cross?

Those are my questions, in short

I would appreciate your reaction, but if you are pressed with time,

the only thing I want is to recall the dire situation those refugees

are in and to urge your humanitarian involvement with them, also

now, in 2022, since their situation doesn’t seem to be more humane now.

Thank you for your involvement

Kind greetings

Astrid Essed

Amsterdam 

The Netherlands

NOTES

[1]

IFRC PRESIDENT: ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY SHOULD NOT

BE DECIDING FACTORS IN SAVING LIVES

16 MAY 2022

PRESS RELEASE

https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/ifrc-president-ethnicity-and-nationality-should-not-be-deciding-factors-saving-lives

New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.”

On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route.

“We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.”

The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services.

At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making.

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.”

[2]

AMERICAN RED CROSS

THOUSANDS AT BELARUS BORDER IN NEED

OF HUMANITARIAN AID

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2021/thousands-at-belarus-border-in-need-of-humanitarian-aid.html

November 15, 2021

The Red Cross is urgently providing relief efforts as thousands of people risk their lives in freezing conditions along the Belarus-Poland border. At least 10 people have died and an estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border between Belarus and neighboring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges unhindered access to the border be provided to help the men, women and children risking their lives for a safer future. 

Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since last week, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. Staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation, sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children. Assistance was also provided for three children who were hospitalized.

“We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises.

“While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said.

The Polish Red Cross has been responding to this crisis for several weeks, delivering blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in provinces near the border with food, water and hygiene kits, as well as providing first aid and helping people trace family members.

Lithuanian Red Cross teams have also been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centers, volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards.

IFRC is in the process of providing the Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross with emergency funding to support the migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services.

“Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded. 

THE FINISH RED CROSS

THE RED CROSS IS HELPING MIGRANTS STRUGGLING IN

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AT THE EU’S EASTERN BORDER

24 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.redcross.fi/news/2021/the-red-cross-is-helping-migrants-struggling-in-dangerous-conditions-at-the-eus-eastern-border/

The situation of migrants trying to enter the EU at the border of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus is alarming. Thousands of migrants have been stuck on the border region since early autumn. The situation of people sleeping without shelter is expected to worsen as the winter approaches.

The Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian Red Cross organisations are helping migrants at the borders by distributing food, clean water, hygiene supplies, clothes and blankets and by offering essential health care.

The health of the people sleeping rough is at continuous risk. At least 10 people are known to have died. Among them, a 14-year-old boy who died of hypothermia.

“There are hundreds of children at the border, many of whom have been separated from their families. The are also pregnant women and disabled people among the migrants. Their situation is worsening by the hour as the crisis drags on and nights become colder,” says the Director of International Operations at the Finnish Red Cross Tiina Saarikoski.

“All states are obliged to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through to its target. People have the right to necessary protection, care and safety, regardless of whether they are granted the right to stay in the country or not.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross helps migrants establish contact with their family members. 

The Finnish Red Cross maintains preparedness for large-scale migration as part of its continuous readiness. As agreed with the authorities, the Red Cross is permanently prepared to establish and maintain reception centres and temporary accommodation units at the request of the authorities.

The Finnish Red Cross has not received official requests in relation to the situation in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. 
 
“The most important thing right now is to deliver necessary aid to the migrants in unsafe conditions and allow humanitarian operators to provide aid,” Saarikoski emphasises. 

[3]

ICRC AND IFCR ON MIGRATION CRISIS AT THE BORDERS

BETWEEN BELARUS, POLAND, LITHUANIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

18 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-ifrc-migration-crisis-borders

Unrestricted and safe humanitarian access urgently needed to save lives and alleviate suffering.

STATEMENT18 NOVEMBER 2021

Budapest/Geneva – November 18, 2021 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are alarmed by the humanitarian tragedy unfolding at the borders between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania. At least 10 people are known to have died, including a 14-year-old boy due to hypothermia. The situation is set to worsen with the most serious winter weather yet to arrive.

IFRC has allocated more than 1 million Swiss Francs to Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross, whose volunteers and staff are assisting thousands of vulnerable people with food, water, blankets and vital medical assistance. ICRC is complementing the response, providing support and additional technical expertise to Red Cross partners, notably to keep migrants in contact with their relatives and other protection-related issues.

Birgitte Ebbesen, IFRC Regional Director for Europe said, “There are extremely vulnerable people at the border, including people with disabilities, pregnant women, and hundreds of children – many of them without a parent or family member. They have been sleeping rough in freezing conditions for many days now.”

“Our volunteers have been able to provide some assistance, but many are still hungry and cold. These are mothers, sisters, sons and daughters, people whose lives matter, and they should be protected and treated with compassion and dignity.”

Martin Schüepp, ICRC Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia said: “To protect people’s lives, health and dignity, as well as ease suffering and prevent further tragedy, all Red Cross Red Crescent Movement partners and other humanitarian organisations need immediate, unrestricted access to all migrants, including at borders.”

“The ICRC is providing support and additional technical expertise to our Red Cross partners, on reuniting people with separated family members and other protection-related issues.”

All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.

[4]

”All migrants, irrespective of their legal status, should have effective access to humanitarian assistance and medical assistance, as well as to protection. Whether this is international protection, or a voluntary return to their home countries, migrants’ rights should be respected at all times and authorities should avoid separating family members and putting at risk their lives and physical integrity.”

ICRC AND IFCR ON MIGRATION CRISIS AT THE BORDERS

BETWEEN BELARUS, POLAND, LITHUANIA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

18 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.icrc.org/en/document/icrc-ifrc-migration-crisis-borders

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 3

[5]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

Poland/Belarus: New evidence of abuses highlights ‘hypocrisy’ of unequal treatment of asylum-seekers 

  • Authorities violating rights of asylum-seekers, including strip searches and other degrading treatment, in overcrowded detention centres
  • Some people forcibly sedated during return
  • Pushbacks and arbitrary detention in stark contrast with welcome shown to those fleeing Ukraine
  • Spokespeople available

The Polish authorities have arbitrarily detained nearly two thousand asylum-seekers who crossed into the country from Belarus in 2021, and subjected many of them to abuse, including strip searches in unsanitary, overcrowded facilities, and in some cases even to forcible sedation and tasering, Amnesty International said today.

Additionally, after a hiatus during winter, more asylum-seekers are now trying to enter Poland from Belarus, where they are unable to access further funds due to international sanctions and risk harassment or apprehension by Belarusian police due their irregular immigration status. At the Polish border they face razor wire fences and repeated pushbacks by border guards sometimes up to 20-30 times.

“This violent and degrading treatment stands in stark contrast to the warm welcome Poland is offering to displaced people arriving from Ukraine. The behaviour of the Polish authorities smacks of racism and hypocrisy. Poland must urgently extend its admirable compassion for those entering the country from Ukraine to all those crossing its borders to seek safety.”

Arbitrary detention and abysmal detention conditions

Polish border guards have systematically rounded up and violently pushed back people crossing from Belarus, sometimes threatening them with guns. The vast majority of those who have been fortunate enough to avoid being pushed back to Belarus and to apply for asylum in Poland are forced into automatic detention, without a proper assessment of their individual situation and the impact detention would have on their physical and mental health. They are often held for prolonged and indefinite periods of time in overcrowded centres that offer little privacy and only limited access to sanitary facilities, doctors, psychologists, or legal assistance.

Almost all of the people Amnesty International interviewed said they were  traumatized after fleeing areas of conflict and being trapped for months on the Belarusian-Polish border. They also suffered from serious psychological problems, including anxiety, insomnia, depression and frequent suicidal thoughts, undoubtedly exacerbated by their unnecessary metres. For most, psychological support was unavailable.

Retraumatized inside a military base

Many of the people who Amnesty spoke to had been in Wędrzyn detention centre, which holds up to 600 people. Overcrowding is particularly acute in this facility, where up to 24 men are detained in rooms measuring just eight square metres.

In 2021, the Polish authorities decreased the minimum required space for foreign detainees from three square meters per person to just two. The Council of Europe minimum standard for personal living space in prisons and detention centres is four square meters per person.

People held in Wędrzyn recounted how guards greeted new detainees  by saying “welcome to Guantánamo”. Many of them were victims of torture in their home countries before enduring harrowing experiences both in Belarus and on the border of Poland. The detention centre in Wędrzyn forms part of an active military base. The facility’s barbed wire walls — and the persistent sound of armoured vehicles, helicopters and gunfire from military exercises in the area — only serves to retraumatize them.

In Lesznowola Detention Centre, detainees said that guards’ treatment left them feeling dehumanized. The staff called detainees by their case numbers instead of using their names and meted out excessive punishments, including isolation, for simple requests, such as asking for a towel or more food.

Nearly all those interviewed reported consistently disrespectful and verbally abusive behaviour, racist remarks and other practices that indicated psychological ill-treatment. 

Men who Amnesty International interviewed uniformly  complained about the manner in which body searches were  conducted. When people were  transferred from one detention centre to another, they were forced to undergo a strip search at each facility, even though they were in state custody at all times. In Wędrzyn, people recounted abusive searches. For example, all newly admitted foreigners are kept together in a room, required to remove all of their clothes and ordered to perform squats longer than necessary for a legitimate check.

Violent forcible returns

Amnesty International interviewed several people who were forcibly returned as well as some who avoided return and remain in detention in Poland. Many said the Polish border guards who conducted the returns coerced them into signing documents in Polish that they suspected included incriminating information in order to justify their returns. They also said that, in some cases, border guards used excessive force, such as tasers, restrained people with handcuffs, and even sedated those being returned. 

Authorities attempted to forcibly return Yezda, a 30-year old Kurdish woman , with her husband and three small children. After being told that the family would be returned to Iraq, Yezda panicked and screamed and pleaded with the guards not to take them. She threatened to take her life and became extremely agitated. “I knew I could not go back to Iraq and I was ready to die in Poland. While I was crying like that, two guards restrained me and my husband, tied our hands behind our backs, and a doctor gave us an injection that made us very weak and sleepy. My head was not clear, but I could hear my children, who were in the room with us, crying and screaming.”

“We were asked to go through the airport security and the guards told us to behave on the plane. But I refused to go. I remember noticing that I didn’t even have any shoes on, as in the chaos at the camp, they slipped of my feet. My head was not clear, and I couldn’t see my husband or the children, but I remember that they forced me on the plane that was full of people. I was still crying and pleading with the police not to take us.” Yezda said that she broke her foot as she fought the guards who tried to put her on the plane. Yezda and her family were returned to Warsaw after the airline refused to take them to Iraq. They remain in a camp in Poland for now.

Volunteers and activists have been barred from accessing the border of Poland and Belarus, and some have even faced prosecution for trying to help people cross the border. In March, activists who had helped people both on Poland’s borders with Ukraine and with Belarus were detained for providing life-saving assistance to refugees and migrants on the Belarussian border, and now face potentially serious charges.

Stranded at the border

On 20 March, the Belarusian authorities reportedly evicted close to 700 refugees and migrants, including many families with young children and people suffering from severe illnesses and disabilities, from the warehouse in the Belarusian village of Bruzgi which had accommodated several thousand people in 2021.

People who were evicted from the warehouse suddenly found themselves stranded in the forest, trying to survive in sub-zero temperatures without shelter, food, water or access to medical care. Many remain in the forest and experience daily abuse from the Belarusian border guards, who use dogs and violence to force people to cross the border into Poland.

“Hundreds of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and other parts of the world remain stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland. The Polish government must immediately stop pushbacks. They are illegal no matter how the government tries to justify them. The international community – including the EU – must demand that those trapped on Poland’s border with Belarus be afforded the same access to EU territory as any other group seeking refuge in Europe,” said Jelena Sesar.

END OF THE ARTICLE

REPORT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

The rapid relief effort at the border, exceptional generosity of civil society and willingness of Polish authorities to receive people fleeing from Ukraine contrast starkly with the Polish government’s hostility toward refugees and migrants who have arrived in the country via Belarus since July 2021. Hundreds of people who crossed from Belarus have been arbitrarily detained in Poland in appalling conditions and without access to a fair asylum proceeding. Many have been forcibly returned to their countries of origin, some under sedation. In addition, hundreds of people remain stranded inside Belarus and face increasingly desperate conditions.

END OF THIS PIECE

FULL REPORT

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/EUR3754602022ENGLISH.pdf

[6]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, THE UKRAINIAN REFUGEES

AND THE REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS/

DO YOU TREAT THEM WITH EQUAL ATTENTION, RED CROSS?

ASTRID ESSED

[7]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS 

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN UKRAINE AND NEIGHBOURING

COUNTRIES

https://www.icrc.org/en/humanitarian-crisis-ukraine

IFRC SCALES UP CASH ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE IMPACTED

BY CONFLICT IN UKRAINE

23 MAY 2022

https://www.ifrc.org/article/ifrc-scales-cash-assistance-people-impacted-conflict-ukraine

Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.

IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:

“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”

The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.

The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.

“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.

Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.

Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”

During the past three months:
  • Together, we have reached more than 2.1 million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
  • Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we’ve set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
  • In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
  • 71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.

[8]

MEDICS LEAVE POLAND=BELARUS BORDER WITHOUT

REACHING MIGRANTS

https://www.dw.com/en/medics-leave-poland-belarus-border-without-reaching-migrants/a-60353514

Doctors Without Borders removed its team on the Belarus-Poland border after Warsaw blocked access to migrants trying to enter the European Union. Camped in harsh conditions, several people have died on the EU’s doorstep.

Despite knowing people along the Belarus-Poland border were “in desperate need of medical and humanitarian assistance,” the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it withdrew its emergency response team from the region.

“Since October, MSF has repeatedly requested access to the restricted area and the border guard posts in Poland, but without success,” Frauke Ossig, the charity’s emergency coordinator for Poland and Lithuania, said on Thursday.

“We know that there are still people crossing the border and hiding in the forest, in need of support, but while we are committed to assisting people on the move wherever they may be, we have not been able to reach them in Poland,” Ossig added.

MSF said it was concerned that restricting access to major aid organizations could result in more deaths and such policies were “another example of the EU deliberately creating unsafe conditions for people to seek asylum at its borders.”

While many of the migrants received shelter in a logistics center, a number of people are reported to have died in the freezing, harsh conditions along the border.

Why can’t aid groups reach migrants and asylum-seekers?

On December 1, Poland’s Interior Ministry extended a state of emergency that prohibits all non-residents, including journalists and non-governmental aid groups, from the border area.

“People are being attacked and beaten at the hands of border guards, and yet state officials continue to allow the practice of pushing people between borders knowing that such maltreatment continues,” MSF said.

With thousands of people on the Belarusian side of the 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch, Poland built a barbed-wire fence that it intends to replace with a permanent barrier and sent thousands of soldiers to the border, leaving the migrants stuck in camps in no man’s land and unable to apply for asylum in the European Union.

Polish border guards accused of illegal ‘pushbacks’

Polish border guards have been accused of forcibly pushing migrants and asylum-seekers back into Belarus — a move that breaches international law. At least 21 people have lost their lives in the attempt in 2021, MSF reported.

In December, the Polish civil society group Salam Lab reported that five Syrian and one Palestinian who managed to find their way outside Poland’s exclusion zone said they had been pushed back to Belarus several times by Polish authorities.

EU nations Latvia and Lithuania, which also share borders with Belarus, have also reinforced their border security and declared a state of emergency. MSF said it had not received access to migrants at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East to attempt to enter the EU through Belarus.

Belarus denies this and has urged the EU to take in the migrants.

“The current situation is unacceptable and inhumane,” Ossig said. “People have the right to seek safety and asylum and should not be illegitimately pushed back to Belarus.”

[9]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 5

Reacties uitgeschakeld voor Astrid Essed insists: Red Cross, please give me information about your present [2022] involvement with the refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus

Opgeslagen onder Divers

The International Red Cross, the Ukrainian refugees and the refugees, trapped between Poland and Belarus/Do you treat them with equal attention, Red Cross?

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists. Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Getty Images
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

Fallen tree in the Białowieża Forest

Bialowieza National Park in Poland0029.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest

REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS

War of Russia against Ukraine. War refugees in Ukraine. KYIV, UKRAINE - Mar. 05, 2022: War of Russia against Ukraine. Women, old people and children evacuated stock images

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS, UKRAINIAN REFUGEES AND REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN POLAND AND BELARUS/DO YOU TREAT THEM WITH EQUAL ATTENTION, INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS?

ASTRID ESSED LETTER!

TO 

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

PRESIDENT AND ASSEMBLY

Subject:

Questions about the International Red Cross attitude against

Ukrainian refugees versus refugees trapped between Belarus and

Poland

Your mission as International Red Cross

The work of the ICRC is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949, their Additional Protocols, its Statutes – and those of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – and the resolutions of the International Conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.

https://www.icrc.org/en/who-we-are/mandate

[When you are pressed with time, go directly to the part below:

”QUESTIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS”]

Dear President

Dear members of the Assembly,

Firstly my great appreciation for your fantastic and indispensable Work

through the whole world!

Without your humanitarian involvement and the sometimes great risks

your co workers take, life would be extremely difficult, if not impossible,

for the millions of people you are helping day after day.

But even the best of organisations need critical attention and have their 

flaws and that’s precisely the reason of this letter.

For in my opinion the International Red Cross attention for the Ukrainian

refugees, who have crossed the Polish Border is far more greater than the attention for the refugees, who tried to cross the Polish Border and are still trapped between the borders of Poland and Belarus.

Now I will not say, that the International Red Cross did nothing for these refugees.

On the contrary:

My great appreciation for the Good Work of the Finnish Red Cross, that 

helped those people wonderfully! [1]

I also appreciate the emergency calls and involvement

of the American Red Cross, The Belarus Red Cross, the Poland Red Cross,

the Lithuanian Red Cross and the other Red Cross departments [2]

Thank you, Finnish Red Cross [which gets this letter cc also]

and thank you, the other mentioned and peerhaps not mentioned Red Cross departments !

Also a Shout out to all those anonymous Polish people,

who helped refugees! [3]

And I express my appreciation to the president of the International

Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mr F Rocca, who

stated, that thee should be no difference in the reception and protection

of refugees, whether they are Ukrainians or coming from other countries.

I quote him:

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,”and

“This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.” [4]

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES VERSUS REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN

POLAND AND BELARUS

I referred to the great attention of the International Red Cross to the Ukrainian

refugees [5] and don’t get me wrong:

I appreciate that very much and I think it is of the utmost importance to stand

for these people, who were the victims of the Russian invasion and had to flee their countries under so dramatic circumstances.

I sympathise with all refugees whoever they are and where they came from

and I know the International Red Cross does the same.

And yet, according to me, sometimes things go wrong.

Too often I learn from people from the field: Volunteers who do their utmost

to help those. who are trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland, that

the Red Cross is not, or not enough, present to help the between border refugees”:

I quote something that made great impression on me:

It’s from mrs Anna Albot, a spokeswoman for the Polish Minority

Right Group [also mentioned in cc] and member of the Grupa Granica:

Quote: [first in Dutch, then translation in English]:

”Waar is het Rode Kruis, de Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie van de VN en de VN-vluchtelingenorganisatie? Die organisaties die zelfs in oorlogsgebieden opereren? Die voedsel en water naar de gevaarlijkste criminelen brengen? Is Elina, 5, gevaarlijker of minder waard? ” [6]

In English:

”Where is the Red Cross, The International Organisation for Migration

of the UN and the UNHCR? 

Those organisations which even operate in warzones?

Which bring food and water to the most dangerous criminals?

Is Elina, 5, more dangerous and worth less?

Mrs Albot also published this article in the Guardian [8 december 2021]

QUESTIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

This was in december 2021

And to my knowledge, the situation of the refugees, trapped

in the Polish-Belarussian border is yet inhuman, as is the

situation of the refugees, who reached Poland and are in

Polish detention centres in dire conditions.

See the statement of Amnesty International [7]

Now I had the impression, that on this moment, the main attention

of the International Cross goes to the Ukrainian refugees and that the

trapped refugees between Poland and Belarus are somewhat forgotten.

When I am wrong, please send me the information about

your involvement in the no one land between those borders.

When I am NOT wrong, please explain to me, why the International

Red Cross shows less attention to those refugees:

Are you being hindered in your activities, something volunteers have experienced in the past months? [8]

And if that’s so, what did you do, as an International Organisation, to

address to this situation?

Did you write to the Polish and Belarussian authorities?

Did you gave press conferences about this?

Did you try to visit the Polish detention centres, where, according to the

information of Amnesty International, the border refugees are being

mistreated and denied their right to asylum? [9]

If not, why not?

Because you are hindered in your activities?

And again the question:

If you are hindered in your activities, what did you do to protest and get access anyway, as

is your right and obligation as the International Red Cross?

And when, suppose you HAD access to the mentioned detention centres and

were not hindered in your activities, why did you give more attention

to the Ukrainian refugees then to those trapped between Belarus and

Poland.

Again, I don’t say you on purpose neglected those between borders refugees, I only had the impression more attention went to the Ukrainian refugees, who have, of course, the full right to your attention, only not more then

others.

EPILOGUE

Dear president, members of the International Red Cross, I hope you

forgive me my bold and critical questions, but they were necessary:

Like Amnesty International [10] I am very concerned about the

inhuman situation of the refugees between the border, as their reception in

Poland, that is quite different from the warm welcome

the Ukrainian refugees received, as it should be for all refugees.

You as a great humanitarian organisation can make the difference and

show the World and especially the European leaders, that all refugees 

must be treated and received humanely, regardless where they came from

or what their origins are.

Do your best.

The refugees count on you!

And if you’re pressed with time and can’t answer me, no problem

All I want is that you do your humanitarian task to all refugees,

whoever they are

Thank you

Kind greetings

Astrid Essed

Amsterdam 

The Netherlands

NOTES

[1]

THE FINISH RED CROSS

THE RED CROSS IS HELPING MIGRANTS STRUGGLING IN

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AT THE EU’S EASTERN BORDER

24 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.redcross.fi/news/2021/the-red-cross-is-helping-migrants-struggling-in-dangerous-conditions-at-the-eus-eastern-border/

The situation of migrants trying to enter the EU at the border of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus is alarming. Thousands of migrants have been stuck on the border region since early autumn. The situation of people sleeping without shelter is expected to worsen as the winter approaches.

The Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian Red Cross organisations are helping migrants at the borders by distributing food, clean water, hygiene supplies, clothes and blankets and by offering essential health care.

The health of the people sleeping rough is at continuous risk. At least 10 people are known to have died. Among them, a 14-year-old boy who died of hypothermia.

“There are hundreds of children at the border, many of whom have been separated from their families. The are also pregnant women and disabled people among the migrants. Their situation is worsening by the hour as the crisis drags on and nights become colder,” says the Director of International Operations at the Finnish Red Cross Tiina Saarikoski.

“All states are obliged to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through to its target. People have the right to necessary protection, care and safety, regardless of whether they are granted the right to stay in the country or not.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross helps migrants establish contact with their family members. 

The Finnish Red Cross maintains preparedness for large-scale migration as part of its continuous readiness. As agreed with the authorities, the Red Cross is permanently prepared to establish and maintain reception centres and temporary accommodation units at the request of the authorities.

The Finnish Red Cross has not received official requests in relation to the situation in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. 
 
“The most important thing right now is to deliver necessary aid to the migrants in unsafe conditions and allow humanitarian operators to provide aid,” Saarikoski emphasises. 

[2]

AMERICAN RED CROSS

THOUSANDS AT BELARUS BORDER IN NEED

OF HUMANITARIAN AID

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2021/thousands-at-belarus-border-in-need-of-humanitarian-aid.html

November 15, 2021

The Red Cross is urgently providing relief efforts as thousands of people risk their lives in freezing conditions along the Belarus-Poland border. At least 10 people have died and an estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border between Belarus and neighboring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges unhindered access to the border be provided to help the men, women and children risking their lives for a safer future. 

Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since last week, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. Staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation, sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children. Assistance was also provided for three children who were hospitalized.

“We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises.

“While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said.

The Polish Red Cross has been responding to this crisis for several weeks, delivering blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in provinces near the border with food, water and hygiene kits, as well as providing first aid and helping people trace family members.

Lithuanian Red Cross teams have also been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centers, volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards.

IFRC is in the process of providing the Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross with emergency funding to support the migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services.

“Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded. 

[3]

24/7  NEWS BULLETIN

IT’S HEART BREAKING: HOW POLISH VOLUNTEERS

RESCUE POVERTY STRICKEN MIGRANTS AT

THE BELARUSIAN BORDER

11 NOVEMBER 2021

While the official Warsaw refuses to let in the migrants who have accumulated on the Belarusian border, not wanting to recognize them as refugees, many Poles express a desire to help people in difficult situations.

In the Polish media, you can see lists of various NGOs that are involved in helping migrants, as well as talk about ways to help them. One of the most popular is called a financial donation, but it is also suggested to become a volunteer working with refugees. The monetary contributions are spent on humanitarian transportation, shelter, medical and legal assistance, and integration with the host society.

“You don’t have to be at the border to help refugees,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza. “We can’t do much on this issue, but here’s exactly what we can: offer a blanket, a sleeping bag or waterproof clothing.”

Among the organizations that help refugees and migrants, mention is made, for example, of Caritas Polska, which carries out humanitarian aid campaigns both in Poland and abroad. This organization operates centers for refugees and migrants in Szczecin, Kalisz and Warsaw, providing systematic assistance in the field of intercultural integration, career counseling, psychological and legal assistance, classes in community centers and educational packages. Since the beginning of the current migration crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, Caritas Polska has been organizing humanitarian transfers to centers where foreigners arrive, providing migrants with food, detergents, hygiene items, and blankets.

Helping migrants and the Polish Red Cross collecting material gifts for aid packages for migrants. Donations are accepted at Red Cross offices throughout Poland. Currently, the most in demand are: jackets, sweaters, thick socks, warm shoes, hats, scarves, blankets and sleeping bags. At the same time, clothes and shoes must be new or used, but in good condition. High-energy products are accepted (bars, chocolate, dried fruits), as well as other food products (pies and other canned poultry, canned fish, crackers, waffles, etc.).

The Polish non-governmental humanitarian organization Grupa Granica, which monitors the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, believes that refugees need to be rescued as soon as possible. Indeed, if the Polish border police finds injured migrants before doctors, they send them back to Belarus, explaining this step by the fact that their health condition may deteriorate at any time, and the risk of death in such conditions is great.

The Guardian tells how 15 Iraqi Kurds ended up in the forests of the Polish village of Narewka after they managed to cross the border of Belarus and the European Union. All migrants had early signs of hypothermia. One woman could hardly walk. They had no choice but to turn to volunteers for help. A team from Grupa Granica, before the border guards, found migrants who found themselves in completely extreme conditions. It was already starting to get dark, and the temperature dropped to almost zero degrees. Volunteers distributed blankets and hot tea to people.

After some time, the police arrived in the forest. Up to this point, volunteers have explained to the frozen migrants how to properly apply for asylum.

“We have about eight teams operating near the border and a total of about 40 people,” Anna Albot, a spokeswoman for the Polish Minority Rights Group and member of Grupa Granica, told The Guardian. – Whenever we receive calls from migrant families, we send a request to our teams and check who is closest to the place. People often ask for food, water, a doctor, or clothing. The other day I met a Syrian family who didn’t even have shoes. ”

Anna Chmielewska, coordinator of the Center for Assistance to Foreigners in Warsaw, noted that “it is difficult to work in the border zone for several reasons”. First, the Polish police stop the cars of the volunteers a few kilometers before the Kuznitsa checkpoint on the Polish-Belarusian border. The fact is that three kilometers from the border begins the territory on which the state of emergency is in force, so access to it is prohibited.

“We cannot get into this zone and help the people who are there,” she added. “Only local residents can do this.” According to her, volunteers only have the opportunity to contact migrants only when they can pass the border zone: “But not everyone succeeds in doing this. Winter is coming and people are not ready to stay outside in the cold day after day. We are afraid that bad weather will lead to more deaths. It’s heartbreaking for us. “

In addition, the activist said that border police officers often behave quite aggressively. “We are not doing anything illegal, but they make us feel like we are violators,” Khmelevska said. “Helping people is okay. But in the current situation we seem to be engaged in secret activities. “

According to a representative of another non-governmental Polish organization, Medycy na granicy (Doctors at the Border – MK), border guards periodically obstruct the provision of medical assistance to migrants.

On their official Facebook page, the volunteers reported that before going on another call, they found that the ambulance’s wheels had been deflated. In addition, the doctors found “people in uniform” at the service car, and an olive-colored car with registration numbers beginning with the letters denoting the off-road vehicles of the Polish army stood nearby, the report said.

The doctors added that they tried to talk to the people sitting in the car, but they left almost immediately. Then they turned to the Ministry of National Defense of Poland with a request to “urgently provide clarification regarding this shameful incident.”

The department gave a response almost immediately. “The soldiers of the Polish army have no relation to the damage to the ambulance at the border,” the ministry’s press service informed. “They have much more serious questions than the denial of fake news in the media space.”

At the same time, such situations do not lead volunteers astray. They continue to provide assistance to refugees. On their social networks, doctors posted a post in five languages – English, French, Arabic, Persian and Kurdish – with the following content: “If you or someone from your family needs any humanitarian or medical assistance on the Polish-Belarusian border, write US. We will connect you with the right people. “

Those wishing to help migrants have to face not only opposition from the authorities. After one of the theaters in the city of Legnica began collecting gifts for refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border, it was attacked by haters on the Internet. “But there are more people willing to help,” says one of the initiators of the action.

In this regard, Polish volunteers are pleased to know that activists from Germany are trying to help migrants stranded on the Polish-Belarusian border. According to the Polish Internet resource Oko.press, a group of German volunteers came to Poland to deliver parcels for refugees to local organizations, show solidarity with immigrants and protest against the actions of the Polish authorities and the inaction of German politicians.

“We have free seats on the bus,” says one of the activists Ruben Neugebauer. “We could take people who need help with us. If only the German government would agree to this … We call on the German authorities to create humanitarian corridors on the Polish-Belarusian border. This should be one of the priorities of the government that is currently being formed in Germany. “

.

Source From: MK

[4]

IFRC PRESIDENT: ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY SHOULD NOT

BE DECIDING FACTORS IN SAVING LIVES

16 MAY 2022/PRESS RELEASE

https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/ifrc-president-ethnicity-and-nationality-should-not-be-deciding-factors-saving-lives

New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.”

On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route.

“We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.”

The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services.

At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making.

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.”

[5]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS AND THE UKRAINE

https://www.icrc.org/en/humanitarian-crisis-ukraine

IFRC SCALES UP CASH ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE IMPACTED

BY CONFLICT IN UKRAINE

23 MAY 2022

https://www.ifrc.org/article/ifrc-scales-cash-assistance-people-impacted-conflict-ukraine

Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.

IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:

“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”

The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.

The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.

“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.

Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.

Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”

During the past three months:
  • Together, we have reached more than 2.1 million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
  • Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we’ve set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
  • In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
  • 71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.

IFRCUKRAINE AND IMPACTED COUNTRIES CRISIS

https://www.ifrc.org/emergency/ukraine-and-impacted-countries

Due to the conflict escalation in Ukraine, millions of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. The Ukrainian Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict as the security situation allows. National Societies in surrounding countries, with support from the IFRC, are assisting people leaving Ukraine with shelter, basic aid items and medical supplies. People from Ukraine will need long-term, ongoing support. Our priority is addressing the humanitarian needs of all people affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine.

IFRC

UKRAINE AND IMPACTED COUNTRIES CRISIS

EMERGENCY APPEAL

12 APRIL 2022

file:///C:/Users/Essed/Downloads/MGR65002ea1.pdf

[6]

FACEBOOK THE REFUGEE CIRCLE

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1172370492773108/

Saskia van Rees

 

8 dec 2021, door Anna Albot in the Guardian. Zij is met in Narewka, Polen, vlakbij de grens met Wit-Rusland.

Het helpen van vluchtelingen die verhongeren in de ijzige grensbossen van Polen is illegaal, maar het is niet de echte misdaad

Eén gedachte gaat constant door mijn hoofd: “Ik heb kinderen thuis, ik kan niet de cel in, ik kan niet de cel in.” De politiek ligt buiten mijn bereik of dat van de slachtoffers aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland. Die gaat erom dat de vertrekkende Duitse kanselier Angela Merkel doordringt tot Alexander Loekasjenko, de president van Wit-Rusland. Het is ironisch dat deze grens meer dan 50 mediaploegen op de been heeft gebracht, maar Polen de enige plaats in de EU is waar journalisten niet vrijuit kunnen rapporteren.

Ondertussen nadert de strenge Noord-Europese winter en bevriezen mijn vingers in de donkere sneeuwnachten.

De grenssituatie laat de kloof zien tussen wat legaal is en wat moreel is. Hij beheerst de inspanningen van degenen die levens redden. Het enige wat wij, activisten in de bossen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland, kunnen doen is water, voedsel en kleding naar wanhopige mensen brengen. Maar deze fundamentele humanitaire daad, kan alleen in het geheim worden uitgevoerd. We moeten ons verstoppen en door de bossen sluipen. De aandacht trekken van grenswachten, politie of leger zou een nieuwe pushback kunnen forceren.

We ontmoeten bange ogen, uitgeputte gezichten, lichamen kapot door de kou … Bevroren, dorstige, hongerige mensen.

Ik heb verschillende groepen tussen de bomen ontmoet: gezinnen, moeders met kinderen, vaders met gehandicapte kinderen, ouderen en mensen uit de meest kwetsbare groepen ter wereld – etnisch, religieus en LGBTQ+. Ze zochten vrijheid, maar werden sinds augustus tot nu, december, vijf, tien en zelfs vijftien keer teruggedreven naar Wit-Rusland.

Tijdens mijn nachtelijke tochten ben ik uitgerust met een grote rugzak vol thermoskannen warme soep, sokken, laarzen, jassen, handschoenen, sjaals, mutsen, pleisters, medicijnen en powerbanks. Ik loop in het donker en verschuil me achter bomen als ik helikopters hoor of de felle lichten van de politie zie. Ik hoor het geplons van de soep in de kannen op mijn rug, ik hoor mijn kortademigheid – niemand heeft me geleerd om te sluipen en onzichtbaar te zijn als een beroepsmilitair. Ik heb jarenlang voor mensenrechten gewerkt, de meeste EU-grenzen en vluchtelingenkampen bezocht, maar ik was nooit bang om takken onder mijn voeten te laten kraken of voor het ritselen van de bomen boven mijn hoofd terwijl ik me voortbeweeg.

Uit persoonlijke verhalen en bewijzen verzameld door Minority Rights Group International en collega’s van Grupa Granica, een alliantie van 14 Poolse maatschappelijke organisaties die reageren op de crisis, weten we dat er minstens 5.000 mensen in de bossen zijn geweest en dat er momenteel minstens 1.000 zijn. We hebben met iedereen contact gehad: wanhopige slachtoffers van een walgelijk machtsspel tussen staten.

Elke keer dat we reageren op een telefoontje van iemand in nood, of hun moeder die nog in Irak of Afghanistan is, of een neef in Berlijn, hangen we onze rugzakken om en gaan. Dag en nacht – lang nadat de wereld zijn interesse heeft verloren. Soms zijn we uren op zoek naar mensen. Die veranderen voor de veiligheid vaak van locatie. Soms zijn bejaarde grootmoeders of de kleine kinderen die geen energie meer hebben om te lopen, gestrand in Poolse moerassen. Nu de bossen bedekt zijn met sneeuw en mensen ons niet kunnen bellen omdat hun telefoons zijn vernietigd door het Poolse leger, gebruiken we infrarood camera’s.

We ontmoeten bange ogen, uitgeputte gezichten, lichamen kapot door de kou, wanhopig verzwakt na weken in het ijzige, natte bos. Bevroren, dorstige, hongerige mensen. Ik had geen idee wat honger betekende. Ik gaf mijn kinderen wel eens een stuk chocola als ze klaagden voor het eten. Ik heb armoedestatistieken en geschiedenisboeken gelezen. Ik wist niets van honger.

Mensen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland hebben al weken niet gegeten. Om de paar dagen krijgen ze, als ze geld hebben, misschien een oude aardappel van een Wit-Russische soldaat na een gewelddadige pushback over het prikkeldraad. Die delen ze met de kinderen. Ze hebben dagenlang niets te drinken. Of drinken moeras- of regenwater, dat maagkrampen en een verlammende hoofdpijn veroorzaakt, waardoor ze verder verzwakken.

We wensen hen het beste aan het einde van onze ontmoeting. Voor een paar dagen voldoende voedsel en water achterlaten is onmogelijk: niemand heeft de kracht om zoveel te dragen. We kunnen geen mensen meenemen of naar een veilige plek brengen. Dat zou een strafbaar feit zijn. Maar het is geen misdaad om deze mensen langzaam dood te laten gaan…

Waar is het Rode Kruis, de Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie van de VN en de VN-vluchtelingenorganisatie? Die organisaties die zelfs in oorlogsgebieden opereren? Die voedsel en water naar de gevaarlijkste criminelen brengen? Is Elina, 5, gevaarlijker of minder waard? Ze heeft epilepsie, maar geen medicijnen. Ik ontmoette haar in het bos met negen andere Koerden, allemaal zonder laarzen. Ze hebben thuis oorlogen en luchtaanvallen overleefd, maar kunnen in het Poolse bos doodvriezen. Bij elke pushback pakken Poolse en Wit-Russische officieren alles af: geld, kleding en schoeisel.

Er was de groep van negen vrouwen uit de Democratische Republiek Congo, waarschijnlijk verhandeld. Toen ik ze de situatie uitlegde, huilden en huilden ze maar. Of de Yezidi-zussen, die zeven jaar geleden ontsnapten aan de genocide in Sinjar, Irak, maar nog steeds op zoek zijn naar een veilige plek. Of de jongens uit Jemen, die perfect Engels spreken. Of de drie homoseksuele mannen uit Iran, wanhopig om niet teruggestuurd te worden naar Wit-Russische soldaten.

We blijven contact houden. Als ze erin slagen hun telefoons te verbergen, kunnen we communiceren na een pushback. Ze delen foto’s en video’s van Wit-Russische honden. Laten me bijtwonden zien als we elkaar aan de Poolse kant ontmoeten. Zij huilen. Ze vragen om advies. Ze willen hun familie niet vertellen over hun benarde situatie, maar ze hebben iemand nodig om mee te praten.

“De vijfde pushback. Na de zesde pleeg ik zelfmoord.”

“Ik heb mijn zoon verloren, hij heeft astma. De laatste keer dat hij belde was drie dagen geleden. Weet je waar hij is?”

“Wanneer ben je hier? Heb je water? Al is het een druppel?”

Onderworpen aan een desinformatiecampagne krijgen de vluchtelingen tegenstrijdige berichten van Wit-Russische diensten, die formulieren verspreiden over de vestiging in Polen of Duitsland. Dit schept hoop op een veilige reis. Maar het echte doel is om ze aan de Poolse grens neer te zetten om druk uit te oefenen op de EU. Sommige verontrustende berichten suggereren dat migranten worden gedwongen om deel te nemen aan geweld als onderdeel van Wit-Russische pogingen om Poolse functionarissen te provoceren.

Met het risico van een escalatie van geweld willen wij, de activisten in de bossen, de wereld eraan herinneren dat vluchtelingen geen agressors zijn. Ze zijn gijzelaars van het regime van Loekasjenko, dat hen voor zijn agenda gebruikt.

Polen sturen me berichten: “Waar moet ik warme en donkere kleding naartoe sturen?” “Hoe is de situatie aan de grens? De media laten ons alleen video’s zien van het Poolse ministerie of de Wit-Russische autoriteiten.” “Ik huil als ik mijn kinderen in bed stop. Schrijf alsjeblieft iets dat kan helpen.”

Dunja Mijatović, de commissaris voor mensenrechten van de Raad van Europa, verbleef vier dagen in Polen en ging met ons mee het veld in. Ze zei: “De grootste kracht van de hulpbeweging voor vluchtelingen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland zijn de inwoners van de naburige steden – in de noodzone en ernaast. Het is hun compassie en empathie die het leven van mensen in het bos verlengt. Hun moed en onbaatzuchtigheid. Hun goedheid redt levens.”

Anderen zien het natuurlijk anders: mensen die aan de grens helpen zijn “vijanden van de natie”, “agenten van Loekasjenko”, “schuldig aan het vernietigen van Europese waarden”, “het uitnodigen van terroristen hier”.

We maken ons schuldig aan het achterlaten van pakken water in het bos voor de dorstigen. We maken ons schuldig aan het uitdelen van soep. Aan schoenen aan koude voeten doen die niet meer konden bewegen. Als helpen illegaal is, begrijpen we dan wel wat misdaad is?

Anna Alboth is vrijwilliger bij Minority Rights Group

[7]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

Poland/Belarus: New evidence of abuses highlights ‘hypocrisy’ of unequal treatment of asylum-seekers 

  • Authorities violating rights of asylum-seekers, including strip searches and other degrading treatment, in overcrowded detention centres
  • Some people forcibly sedated during return
  • Pushbacks and arbitrary detention in stark contrast with welcome shown to those fleeing Ukraine
  • Spokespeople available

The Polish authorities have arbitrarily detained nearly two thousand asylum-seekers who crossed into the country from Belarus in 2021, and subjected many of them to abuse, including strip searches in unsanitary, overcrowded facilities, and in some cases even to forcible sedation and tasering, Amnesty International said today.

Additionally, after a hiatus during winter, more asylum-seekers are now trying to enter Poland from Belarus, where they are unable to access further funds due to international sanctions and risk harassment or apprehension by Belarusian police due their irregular immigration status. At the Polish border they face razor wire fences and repeated pushbacks by border guards sometimes up to 20-30 times.

“This violent and degrading treatment stands in stark contrast to the warm welcome Poland is offering to displaced people arriving from Ukraine. The behaviour of the Polish authorities smacks of racism and hypocrisy. Poland must urgently extend its admirable compassion for those entering the country from Ukraine to all those crossing its borders to seek safety.”

Arbitrary detention and abysmal detention conditions

Polish border guards have systematically rounded up and violently pushed back people crossing from Belarus, sometimes threatening them with guns. The vast majority of those who have been fortunate enough to avoid being pushed back to Belarus and to apply for asylum in Poland are forced into automatic detention, without a proper assessment of their individual situation and the impact detention would have on their physical and mental health. They are often held for prolonged and indefinite periods of time in overcrowded centres that offer little privacy and only limited access to sanitary facilities, doctors, psychologists, or legal assistance.

Almost all of the people Amnesty International interviewed said they were  traumatized after fleeing areas of conflict and being trapped for months on the Belarusian-Polish border. They also suffered from serious psychological problems, including anxiety, insomnia, depression and frequent suicidal thoughts, undoubtedly exacerbated by their unnecessary metres. For most, psychological support was unavailable.

Retraumatized inside a military base

Many of the people who Amnesty spoke to had been in Wędrzyn detention centre, which holds up to 600 people. Overcrowding is particularly acute in this facility, where up to 24 men are detained in rooms measuring just eight square metres.

In 2021, the Polish authorities decreased the minimum required space for foreign detainees from three square meters per person to just two. The Council of Europe minimum standard for personal living space in prisons and detention centres is four square meters per person.

People held in Wędrzyn recounted how guards greeted new detainees  by saying “welcome to Guantánamo”. Many of them were victims of torture in their home countries before enduring harrowing experiences both in Belarus and on the border of Poland. The detention centre in Wędrzyn forms part of an active military base. The facility’s barbed wire walls — and the persistent sound of armoured vehicles, helicopters and gunfire from military exercises in the area — only serves to retraumatize them.

In Lesznowola Detention Centre, detainees said that guards’ treatment left them feeling dehumanized. The staff called detainees by their case numbers instead of using their names and meted out excessive punishments, including isolation, for simple requests, such as asking for a towel or more food.

Nearly all those interviewed reported consistently disrespectful and verbally abusive behaviour, racist remarks and other practices that indicated psychological ill-treatment. 

Men who Amnesty International interviewed uniformly  complained about the manner in which body searches were  conducted. When people were  transferred from one detention centre to another, they were forced to undergo a strip search at each facility, even though they were in state custody at all times. In Wędrzyn, people recounted abusive searches. For example, all newly admitted foreigners are kept together in a room, required to remove all of their clothes and ordered to perform squats longer than necessary for a legitimate check.

Violent forcible returns

Amnesty International interviewed several people who were forcibly returned as well as some who avoided return and remain in detention in Poland. Many said the Polish border guards who conducted the returns coerced them into signing documents in Polish that they suspected included incriminating information in order to justify their returns. They also said that, in some cases, border guards used excessive force, such as tasers, restrained people with handcuffs, and even sedated those being returned. 

Authorities attempted to forcibly return Yezda, a 30-year old Kurdish woman , with her husband and three small children. After being told that the family would be returned to Iraq, Yezda panicked and screamed and pleaded with the guards not to take them. She threatened to take her life and became extremely agitated. “I knew I could not go back to Iraq and I was ready to die in Poland. While I was crying like that, two guards restrained me and my husband, tied our hands behind our backs, and a doctor gave us an injection that made us very weak and sleepy. My head was not clear, but I could hear my children, who were in the room with us, crying and screaming.”

“We were asked to go through the airport security and the guards told us to behave on the plane. But I refused to go. I remember noticing that I didn’t even have any shoes on, as in the chaos at the camp, they slipped of my feet. My head was not clear, and I couldn’t see my husband or the children, but I remember that they forced me on the plane that was full of people. I was still crying and pleading with the police not to take us.” Yezda said that she broke her foot as she fought the guards who tried to put her on the plane. Yezda and her family were returned to Warsaw after the airline refused to take them to Iraq. They remain in a camp in Poland for now.

Volunteers and activists have been barred from accessing the border of Poland and Belarus, and some have even faced prosecution for trying to help people cross the border. In March, activists who had helped people both on Poland’s borders with Ukraine and with Belarus were detained for providing life-saving assistance to refugees and migrants on the Belarussian border, and now face potentially serious charges.

Stranded at the border

On 20 March, the Belarusian authorities reportedly evicted close to 700 refugees and migrants, including many families with young children and people suffering from severe illnesses and disabilities, from the warehouse in the Belarusian village of Bruzgi which had accommodated several thousand people in 2021.

People who were evicted from the warehouse suddenly found themselves stranded in the forest, trying to survive in sub-zero temperatures without shelter, food, water or access to medical care. Many remain in the forest and experience daily abuse from the Belarusian border guards, who use dogs and violence to force people to cross the border into Poland.

“Hundreds of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and other parts of the world remain stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland. The Polish government must immediately stop pushbacks. They are illegal no matter how the government tries to justify them. The international community – including the EU – must demand that those trapped on Poland’s border with Belarus be afforded the same access to EU territory as any other group seeking refuge in Europe,” said Jelena Sesar.

END OF THE ARTICLE

REPORT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

The rapid relief effort at the border, exceptional generosity of civil society and willingness of Polish authorities to receive people fleeing from Ukraine contrast starkly with the Polish government’s hostility toward refugees and migrants who have arrived in the country via Belarus since July 2021. Hundreds of people who crossed from Belarus have been arbitrarily detained in Poland in appalling conditions and without access to a fair asylum proceeding. Many have been forcibly returned to their countries of origin, some under sedation. In addition, hundreds of people remain stranded inside Belarus and face increasingly desperate conditions.

END OF THIS PIECE

FULL REPORT

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/EUR3754602022ENGLISH.pdf

[8]

MEDICS LEAVE POLAND=BELARUS BORDER WITHOUT

REACHING MIGRANTS

https://www.dw.com/en/medics-leave-poland-belarus-border-without-reaching-migrants/a-60353514

Doctors Without Borders removed its team on the Belarus-Poland border after Warsaw blocked access to migrants trying to enter the European Union. Camped in harsh conditions, several people have died on the EU’s doorstep.

Despite knowing people along the Belarus-Poland border were “in desperate need of medical and humanitarian assistance,” the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it withdrew its emergency response team from the region.

“Since October, MSF has repeatedly requested access to the restricted area and the border guard posts in Poland, but without success,” Frauke Ossig, the charity’s emergency coordinator for Poland and Lithuania, said on Thursday.

“We know that there are still people crossing the border and hiding in the forest, in need of support, but while we are committed to assisting people on the move wherever they may be, we have not been able to reach them in Poland,” Ossig added.

MSF said it was concerned that restricting access to major aid organizations could result in more deaths and such policies were “another example of the EU deliberately creating unsafe conditions for people to seek asylum at its borders.”

While many of the migrants received shelter in a logistics center, a number of people are reported to have died in the freezing, harsh conditions along the border.

Why can’t aid groups reach migrants and asylum-seekers?

On December 1, Poland’s Interior Ministry extended a state of emergency that prohibits all non-residents, including journalists and non-governmental aid groups, from the border area.

“People are being attacked and beaten at the hands of border guards, and yet state officials continue to allow the practice of pushing people between borders knowing that such maltreatment continues,” MSF said.

With thousands of people on the Belarusian side of the 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch, Poland built a barbed-wire fence that it intends to replace with a permanent barrier and sent thousands of soldiers to the border, leaving the migrants stuck in camps in no man’s land and unable to apply for asylum in the European Union.

Polish border guards accused of illegal ‘pushbacks’

Polish border guards have been accused of forcibly pushing migrants and asylum-seekers back into Belarus — a move that breaches international law. At least 21 people have lost their lives in the attempt in 2021, MSF reported.

In December, the Polish civil society group Salam Lab reported that five Syrian and one Palestinian who managed to find their way outside Poland’s exclusion zone said they had been pushed back to Belarus several times by Polish authorities.

EU nations Latvia and Lithuania, which also share borders with Belarus, have also reinforced their border security and declared a state of emergency. MSF said it had not received access to migrants at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East to attempt to enter the EU through Belarus.

Belarus denies this and has urged the EU to take in the migrants.

“The current situation is unacceptable and inhumane,” Ossig said. “People have the right to seek safety and asylum and should not be illegitimately pushed back to Belarus.”

[9]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 7

[10]

SEE NOTE 10

SEE ALSO THE LINK

SEE THE ASTRID ESSED MAIL TO THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

SUBJECT OF THE MAIL:

”QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS ATTITUDE 

AGAINST UKRAINIAN REFUGEES VERSUS REFUGEES TRAPPED

BETWEEN BELARUS AND POLAND;”

MAIL:

Astrid Essed <astridessed@yahoo.com>

To:press@icrc.org

Cc:secretariat@ifrc.org,tommaso.dellalonga@ifrc.org,anna.tuson@ifrc.org,info@redcross.fi,info@redcross.byand 3 more…

Fri, May 27 at 3:03 AM

TO 

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

PRESIDENT AND ASSEMBLY

Subject:

Questions about the International Red Cross attitude against

Ukrainian refugees versus refugees trapped between Belarus and

Poland

Your mission as International Red Cross

The work of the ICRC is based on the Geneva Conventions of 1949, their Additional Protocols, its Statutes – and those of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – and the resolutions of the International Conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. The ICRC is an independent, neutral organization ensuring humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. It takes action in response to emergencies and at the same time promotes respect for international humanitarian law and its implementation in national law.

https://www.icrc.org/en/who-we-are/mandate

[When you are pressed with time, go directly to the part below:

”QUESTIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS”]

Dear President

Dear members of the Assembly,

Firstly my great appreciation for your fantastic and indispensable Work

through the whole world!

Without your humanitarian involvement and the sometimes great risks

your co workers take, life would be extremely difficult, if not impossible,

for the millions of people you are helping day after day.

But even the best of organisations need critical attention and have their 

flaws and that’s precisely the reason of this letter.

For in my opinion the International Red Cross attention for the Ukrainian

refugees, who have crossed the Polish Border is far more greater than the attention for the refugees, who tried to cross the Polish Border and are still trapped between the borders of Poland and Belarus.

Now I will not say, that the International Red Cross did nothing for these refugees.

On the contrary:

My great appreciation for the Good Work of the Finnish Red Cross, that 

helped those people wonderfully! [1]

I also appreciate the emergency calls and involvement

of the American Red Cross, The Belarus Red Cross, the Poland Red Cross,

the Lithuanian Red Cross and the other Red Cross departments [2]

Thank you, Finnish Red Cross [which gets this letter cc also]

and thank you, the other mentioned and peerhaps not mentioned Red Cross departments !

Also a Shout out to all those anonymous Polish people,

who helped refugees! [3]

And I express my appreciation to the president of the International

Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies mr F Rocca, who

stated, that thee should be no difference in the reception and protection

of refugees, whether they are Ukrainians or coming from other countries.

I quote him:

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,”and

“This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.” [4]

UKRAINIAN REFUGEES VERSUS REFUGEES, TRAPPED BETWEEN

POLAND AND BELARUS

I referred to the great attention of the International Red Cross to the Ukrainian

refugees [5] and don’t get me wrong:

I appreciate that very much and I think it is of the utmost importance to stand

for these people, who were the victims of the Russian invasion and had to flee their countries under so dramatic circumstances.

I sympathise with all refugees whoever they are and where they came from

and I know the International Red Cross does the same.

And yet, according to me, sometimes things go wrong.

Too often I learn from people from the field: Volunteers who do their utmost

to help those. who are trapped between the borders of Belarus and Poland, that

the Red Cross is not, or not enough, present to help the between border refugees”:

I quote something that made great impression on me:

It’s from mrs Anna Albot, a spokeswoman for the Polish Minority

Right Group [also mentioned in cc] and member of the Grupa Granica:

Quote: [first in Dutch, then translation in English]:

”Waar is het Rode Kruis, de Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie van de VN en de VN-vluchtelingenorganisatie? Die organisaties die zelfs in oorlogsgebieden opereren? Die voedsel en water naar de gevaarlijkste criminelen brengen? Is Elina, 5, gevaarlijker of minder waard? ” [6]

In English:

”Where is the Red Cross, The International Organisation for Migration

of the UN and the UNHCR? 

Those organisations which even operate in warzones?

Which bring food and water to the most dangerous criminals?

Is Elina, 5, more dangerous and worth less?

Mrs Albot also published this article in the Guardian [8 december 2021]

QUESTIONS TO THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS

This was in december 2021

And to my knowledge, the situation of the refugees, trapped

in the Polish-Belarussian border is yet inhuman, as is the

situation of the refugees, who reached Poland and are in

Polish detention centres in dire conditions.

See the statement of Amnesty International [7]

Now I had the impression, that on this moment, the main attention

of the International Cross goes to the Ukrainian refugees and that the

trapped refugees between Poland and Belarus are somewhat forgotten.

When I am wrong, please send me the information about

your involvement in the no one land between those borders.

When I am NOT wrong, please explain to me, why the International

Red Cross shows less attention to those refugees:

Are you being hindered in your activities, something volunteers have experienced in the past months? [8]

And if that’s so, what did you do, as an International Organisation, to

address to this situation?

Did you write to the Polish and Belarussian authorities?

Did you gave press conferences about this?

Did you try to visit the Polish detention centres, where, according to the

information of Amnesty International, the border refugees are being

mistreated and denied their right to asylum? [9]

If not, why not?

Because you are hindered in your activities?

And again the question:

If you are hindered in your activities, what did you do to protest and get access anyway, as

is your right and obligation as the International Red Cross?

And when, suppose you HAD access to the mentioned detention centres and

were not hindered in your activities, why did you give more attention

to the Ukrainian refugees then to those trapped between Belarus and

Poland.

Again, I don’t say you on purpose neglected those between borders refugees, I only had the impression more attention went to the Ukrainian refugees, who have, of course, the full right to your attention, only not more then

others.

EPILOGUE

Dear president, members of the International Red Cross, I hope you

forgive me my bold and critical questions, but they were necessary:

Like Amnesty International [10] I am very concerned about the

inhuman situation of the refugees between the border, as their reception in

Poland, that is quite different from the warm welcome

the Ukrainian refugees received, as it should be for all refugees.

You as a great humanitarian organisation can make the difference and

show the World and especially the European leaders, that all refugees 

must be treated and received humanely, regardless where they came from

or what their origins are.

Do your best.

The refugees count on you!

And if you’re pressed with time and can’t answer me, no problem

All I want is that you do your humanitarian task to all refugees,

whoever they are

Thank you

Kind greetings

Astrid Essed

Amsterdam 

The Netherlands

NOTES

[1]

THE FINISH RED CROSS

THE RED CROSS IS HELPING MIGRANTS STRUGGLING IN

DANGEROUS CONDITIONS AT THE EU’S EASTERN BORDER

24 NOVEMBER 2021

https://www.redcross.fi/news/2021/the-red-cross-is-helping-migrants-struggling-in-dangerous-conditions-at-the-eus-eastern-border/

The situation of migrants trying to enter the EU at the border of Poland, Lithuania and Belarus is alarming. Thousands of migrants have been stuck on the border region since early autumn. The situation of people sleeping without shelter is expected to worsen as the winter approaches.

The Belarusian, Polish and Lithuanian Red Cross organisations are helping migrants at the borders by distributing food, clean water, hygiene supplies, clothes and blankets and by offering essential health care.

The health of the people sleeping rough is at continuous risk. At least 10 people are known to have died. Among them, a 14-year-old boy who died of hypothermia.

“There are hundreds of children at the border, many of whom have been separated from their families. The are also pregnant women and disabled people among the migrants. Their situation is worsening by the hour as the crisis drags on and nights become colder,” says the Director of International Operations at the Finnish Red Cross Tiina Saarikoski.

“All states are obliged to ensure that humanitarian aid gets through to its target. People have the right to necessary protection, care and safety, regardless of whether they are granted the right to stay in the country or not.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross helps migrants establish contact with their family members. 

The Finnish Red Cross maintains preparedness for large-scale migration as part of its continuous readiness. As agreed with the authorities, the Red Cross is permanently prepared to establish and maintain reception centres and temporary accommodation units at the request of the authorities.

The Finnish Red Cross has not received official requests in relation to the situation in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. 
 
“The most important thing right now is to deliver necessary aid to the migrants in unsafe conditions and allow humanitarian operators to provide aid,” Saarikoski emphasises. 

[2]

AMERICAN RED CROSS

THOUSANDS AT BELARUS BORDER IN NEED

OF HUMANITARIAN AID

https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/2021/thousands-at-belarus-border-in-need-of-humanitarian-aid.html

November 15, 2021

The Red Cross is urgently providing relief efforts as thousands of people risk their lives in freezing conditions along the Belarus-Poland border. At least 10 people have died and an estimated 2,000 people are living in makeshift camps near the border between Belarus and neighboring countries Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urges unhindered access to the border be provided to help the men, women and children risking their lives for a safer future. 

Belarus Red Cross has been coordinating aid from partners since last week, distributing food, water, blankets and warm clothes. Staff and volunteers are involved in a continuous response to the situation, sorting and distributing packages, as well as helping authorities set up heating tents for women and children. Assistance was also provided for three children who were hospitalized.

“We are concerned about the increasingly serious situation on the Poland-Belarus border, after large groups of migrants arrived there on November 8. We call for access for the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations so that all people in need, at the border and other locations, can receive medical treatment, humanitarian assistance and protection services,” said Andreas von Weissenberg, IFRC Europe’s head of Disasters, Climate and Crises.

“While Belarus Red Cross has thankfully been given some access to provide vital life-saving aid to people enduring hunger and freezing conditions, we need that access to be regular and also get access on the other side of the border. People need to be treated humanely,” von Weissenberg said.

The Polish Red Cross has been responding to this crisis for several weeks, delivering blankets, sleeping bags and clothes. Local branches are supporting migrants in provinces near the border with food, water and hygiene kits, as well as providing first aid and helping people trace family members.

Lithuanian Red Cross teams have also been supporting migrants close to the border with water, hygiene kits, footwear and clothing, as well as toys for children. In five large reception centers, volunteers provide food and other humanitarian aid, offer psychological support and legal assistance and help people reconnect with their loved ones by providing mobile phones and SIM cards.

IFRC is in the process of providing the Belarus Red Cross, Polish Red Cross and Lithuanian Red Cross with emergency funding to support the migrants with food, clothes, hygiene items, first aid and family reunification services.

“Humanitarian organizations must be granted unconditional and safe access to all people in need, irrespective of their legal status. People are crossing the border with just the clothes on their backs. They need food, medicine, hygiene items, clothing, and protective equipment against COVID-19. We must be allowed to deliver critical assistance and we want to see a peaceful, humane and rights-based solution to the situation,” von Weissenberg concluded. 

[3]

24/7  NEWS BULLETIN

IT’S HEART BREAKING: HOW POLISH VOLUNTEERS

RESCUE POVERTY STRICKEN MIGRANTS AT

THE BELARUSIAN BORDER

11 NOVEMBER 2021

While the official Warsaw refuses to let in the migrants who have accumulated on the Belarusian border, not wanting to recognize them as refugees, many Poles express a desire to help people in difficult situations.

In the Polish media, you can see lists of various NGOs that are involved in helping migrants, as well as talk about ways to help them. One of the most popular is called a financial donation, but it is also suggested to become a volunteer working with refugees. The monetary contributions are spent on humanitarian transportation, shelter, medical and legal assistance, and integration with the host society.

“You don’t have to be at the border to help refugees,” writes Gazeta Wyborcza. “We can’t do much on this issue, but here’s exactly what we can: offer a blanket, a sleeping bag or waterproof clothing.”

Among the organizations that help refugees and migrants, mention is made, for example, of Caritas Polska, which carries out humanitarian aid campaigns both in Poland and abroad. This organization operates centers for refugees and migrants in Szczecin, Kalisz and Warsaw, providing systematic assistance in the field of intercultural integration, career counseling, psychological and legal assistance, classes in community centers and educational packages. Since the beginning of the current migration crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, Caritas Polska has been organizing humanitarian transfers to centers where foreigners arrive, providing migrants with food, detergents, hygiene items, and blankets.

Helping migrants and the Polish Red Cross collecting material gifts for aid packages for migrants. Donations are accepted at Red Cross offices throughout Poland. Currently, the most in demand are: jackets, sweaters, thick socks, warm shoes, hats, scarves, blankets and sleeping bags. At the same time, clothes and shoes must be new or used, but in good condition. High-energy products are accepted (bars, chocolate, dried fruits), as well as other food products (pies and other canned poultry, canned fish, crackers, waffles, etc.).

The Polish non-governmental humanitarian organization Grupa Granica, which monitors the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border, believes that refugees need to be rescued as soon as possible. Indeed, if the Polish border police finds injured migrants before doctors, they send them back to Belarus, explaining this step by the fact that their health condition may deteriorate at any time, and the risk of death in such conditions is great.

The Guardian tells how 15 Iraqi Kurds ended up in the forests of the Polish village of Narewka after they managed to cross the border of Belarus and the European Union. All migrants had early signs of hypothermia. One woman could hardly walk. They had no choice but to turn to volunteers for help. A team from Grupa Granica, before the border guards, found migrants who found themselves in completely extreme conditions. It was already starting to get dark, and the temperature dropped to almost zero degrees. Volunteers distributed blankets and hot tea to people.

After some time, the police arrived in the forest. Up to this point, volunteers have explained to the frozen migrants how to properly apply for asylum.

“We have about eight teams operating near the border and a total of about 40 people,” Anna Albot, a spokeswoman for the Polish Minority Rights Group and member of Grupa Granica, told The Guardian. – Whenever we receive calls from migrant families, we send a request to our teams and check who is closest to the place. People often ask for food, water, a doctor, or clothing. The other day I met a Syrian family who didn’t even have shoes. ”

Anna Chmielewska, coordinator of the Center for Assistance to Foreigners in Warsaw, noted that “it is difficult to work in the border zone for several reasons”. First, the Polish police stop the cars of the volunteers a few kilometers before the Kuznitsa checkpoint on the Polish-Belarusian border. The fact is that three kilometers from the border begins the territory on which the state of emergency is in force, so access to it is prohibited.

“We cannot get into this zone and help the people who are there,” she added. “Only local residents can do this.” According to her, volunteers only have the opportunity to contact migrants only when they can pass the border zone: “But not everyone succeeds in doing this. Winter is coming and people are not ready to stay outside in the cold day after day. We are afraid that bad weather will lead to more deaths. It’s heartbreaking for us. “

In addition, the activist said that border police officers often behave quite aggressively. “We are not doing anything illegal, but they make us feel like we are violators,” Khmelevska said. “Helping people is okay. But in the current situation we seem to be engaged in secret activities. “

According to a representative of another non-governmental Polish organization, Medycy na granicy (Doctors at the Border – MK), border guards periodically obstruct the provision of medical assistance to migrants.

On their official Facebook page, the volunteers reported that before going on another call, they found that the ambulance’s wheels had been deflated. In addition, the doctors found “people in uniform” at the service car, and an olive-colored car with registration numbers beginning with the letters denoting the off-road vehicles of the Polish army stood nearby, the report said.

The doctors added that they tried to talk to the people sitting in the car, but they left almost immediately. Then they turned to the Ministry of National Defense of Poland with a request to “urgently provide clarification regarding this shameful incident.”

The department gave a response almost immediately. “The soldiers of the Polish army have no relation to the damage to the ambulance at the border,” the ministry’s press service informed. “They have much more serious questions than the denial of fake news in the media space.”

At the same time, such situations do not lead volunteers astray. They continue to provide assistance to refugees. On their social networks, doctors posted a post in five languages – English, French, Arabic, Persian and Kurdish – with the following content: “If you or someone from your family needs any humanitarian or medical assistance on the Polish-Belarusian border, write US. We will connect you with the right people. “

Those wishing to help migrants have to face not only opposition from the authorities. After one of the theaters in the city of Legnica began collecting gifts for refugees on the Polish-Belarusian border, it was attacked by haters on the Internet. “But there are more people willing to help,” says one of the initiators of the action.

In this regard, Polish volunteers are pleased to know that activists from Germany are trying to help migrants stranded on the Polish-Belarusian border. According to the Polish Internet resource Oko.press, a group of German volunteers came to Poland to deliver parcels for refugees to local organizations, show solidarity with immigrants and protest against the actions of the Polish authorities and the inaction of German politicians.

“We have free seats on the bus,” says one of the activists Ruben Neugebauer. “We could take people who need help with us. If only the German government would agree to this … We call on the German authorities to create humanitarian corridors on the Polish-Belarusian border. This should be one of the priorities of the government that is currently being formed in Germany. “

.

Source From: MK

[4]

IFRC PRESIDENT: ETHNICITY AND NATIONALITY SHOULD NOT

BE DECIDING FACTORS IN SAVING LIVES

16 MAY 2022/PRESS RELEASE

https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/ifrc-president-ethnicity-and-nationality-should-not-be-deciding-factors-saving-lives

New York / Geneva, 16 May 2022 – President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Francesco Rocca calls on states to step up to their responsibility to save lives, no matter where people are from, ahead of the first review of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM).

Mr Rocca says: “When I was in Marrakech for the adoption of the GCM I made a statement that the world’s approach to migration is painfully broken – but that the GCM can fix it. As we begin the first review of the progress made since then, I am sad to say that this has not been the case so far. Not enough changes to policies and practices to ensure safe and dignified migration have taken place, and many more lives have been lost due to that failure to act.”

On the world’s deadliest sea migration route, the central Mediterranean, the number of deaths has in fact increased since the GCM was signed. The Ocean Viking ship, operated by SOS Mediterranée with IFRC providing humanitarian services on board, saves people in distress on this route.

“We need to carry out this work as state-coordinated search and rescue is absent in the area,” says Mr Rocca. “Our teams have already saved 1,260 people in the nine months we’ve been operating.”

The Ocean Viking is one of the 330 Humanitarian Service Points (HSPs) in 45 countries that supports the ambitions of the GCM, providing assistance and protection to people on the move irrespective of status and without fear of reprisal. The Romanian Red Cross implements HSPs in Bucharest to support people fleeing Ukraine, providing information, food, water, hygiene items and financial assistance, while the Hungarian Red Cross has been operating a HSP at the Keleti railway station 24/7 to welcome people arriving from Ukraine by train with information, food, hygiene items and baby care products.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colombian Red Cross Society has implemented HSPs at the border with Venezuela, offering essential services like healthcare, while Libyan Red Crescent volunteers have provided support to migrants and displaced people, operating HSPs that provided access to information, food, and other necessities, as well as restoring family links services.

At the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF), the IFRC is calling for individual and collective efforts on search and rescue; ensuring access to essential services for migrants regardless of status; scaling up support to people affected of climate related displacement; and the inclusion of migrants in all aspects of society and decision making.

“The political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity and the will to assist and protect the most vulnerable,” says Mr Rocca. “This must be extended to everyone in need, wherever they come from. Ethnicity and nationality should not be deciding factors in saving lives.”

[5]

THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS AND THE UKRAINE

https://www.icrc.org/en/humanitarian-crisis-ukraine

IFRC SCALES UP CASH ASSISTANCE TO PEOPLE IMPACTED

BY CONFLICT IN UKRAINE

23 MAY 2022

https://www.ifrc.org/article/ifrc-scales-cash-assistance-people-impacted-conflict-ukraine

Three months into the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has distributed financial assistance totalling more than 4.3 million Swiss francs to thousands of people on the move.

IFRC Head of Emergency Operations for the Ukraine response, Anne Katherine Moore, said:

“The longer the conflict continues, the greater the needs become. The cost of basic necessities, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, is rising. Increases in the cost of fuel and apartment rentals are also being reported. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their savings are dwindling. Through a new mobile app, we have been able to ramp up our support to help people facing these financial challenges.”

The new technology makes it possible for the IFRC and responding National Societies to reach people at scale and to deliver cash assistance digitally. Successfully introduced in Romania, the mobile app allows refugees to self-register for assistance online, negating the need and cost involved of having to travel to a central location.

The app will soon be expanded to Poland and Slovakia, where cash assistance is already being provided through more traditional methods such as in-person registration, as well as Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.

“This is the fastest we have ever delivered cash at this scale. It has the potential to be a game-changer for our work not just in this response, but also in future operations,” Moore continued.

Cash assistance is a dignified and efficient way to support people impacted by the conflict, allowing them to purchase items specific to their individual needs, while also supporting local economies. It is one part of our integrated and wide-ranging Red Cross and Red Crescent response to the conflict that also includes the provision of health care, first aid, psychosocial support and the distribution of basic household necessities.

Speaking about next steps, Moore said: “There is no short-term solution to the needs of the more than 14 million people who have been forced to flee their homes. We know that even if the conflict was to end tomorrow, rebuilding and recovery will take years. People have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and access to timely healthcare. The IFRC, in support of local National Red Cross Societies in the region, will be there helping people now, and in the months and years to come.”

During the past three months:
  • Together, we have reached more than 2.1 million people with life-saving aid within Ukraine and in surrounding countries. This is 1 in 10 people who had to flee their homes because of the conflict.
  • Along the travel routes within and outside Ukraine, we’ve set up 142 Humanitarian Service Points in 15 countries to provide those fleeing with a safe environment. There, they receive essential services like food, hygiene items, blankets, clothing water, first aid, psychosocial support, information, and financial assistance.
  • In total, we distributed 2.3 million kilograms of aid.
  • 71,000 Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are responding to the crisis.

IFRCUKRAINE AND IMPACTED COUNTRIES CRISIS

https://www.ifrc.org/emergency/ukraine-and-impacted-countries

Due to the conflict escalation in Ukraine, millions of people have left their homes and crossed into neighbouring countries. The Ukrainian Red Cross is helping people affected by the conflict as the security situation allows. National Societies in surrounding countries, with support from the IFRC, are assisting people leaving Ukraine with shelter, basic aid items and medical supplies. People from Ukraine will need long-term, ongoing support. Our priority is addressing the humanitarian needs of all people affected by the conflict, inside and outside Ukraine.

IFRC

UKRAINE AND IMPACTED COUNTRIES CRISIS

EMERGENCY APPEAL

12 APRIL 2022

file:///C:/Users/Essed/Downloads/MGR65002ea1.pdf

[6]

FACEBOOK THE REFUGEE CIRCLE

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1172370492773108/

Saskia van Rees

 

8 dec 2021, door Anna Albot in the Guardian. Zij is met in Narewka, Polen, vlakbij de grens met Wit-Rusland.

Het helpen van vluchtelingen die verhongeren in de ijzige grensbossen van Polen is illegaal, maar het is niet de echte misdaad

Eén gedachte gaat constant door mijn hoofd: “Ik heb kinderen thuis, ik kan niet de cel in, ik kan niet de cel in.” De politiek ligt buiten mijn bereik of dat van de slachtoffers aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland. Die gaat erom dat de vertrekkende Duitse kanselier Angela Merkel doordringt tot Alexander Loekasjenko, de president van Wit-Rusland. Het is ironisch dat deze grens meer dan 50 mediaploegen op de been heeft gebracht, maar Polen de enige plaats in de EU is waar journalisten niet vrijuit kunnen rapporteren.

Ondertussen nadert de strenge Noord-Europese winter en bevriezen mijn vingers in de donkere sneeuwnachten.

De grenssituatie laat de kloof zien tussen wat legaal is en wat moreel is. Hij beheerst de inspanningen van degenen die levens redden. Het enige wat wij, activisten in de bossen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland, kunnen doen is water, voedsel en kleding naar wanhopige mensen brengen. Maar deze fundamentele humanitaire daad, kan alleen in het geheim worden uitgevoerd. We moeten ons verstoppen en door de bossen sluipen. De aandacht trekken van grenswachten, politie of leger zou een nieuwe pushback kunnen forceren.

We ontmoeten bange ogen, uitgeputte gezichten, lichamen kapot door de kou … Bevroren, dorstige, hongerige mensen.

Ik heb verschillende groepen tussen de bomen ontmoet: gezinnen, moeders met kinderen, vaders met gehandicapte kinderen, ouderen en mensen uit de meest kwetsbare groepen ter wereld – etnisch, religieus en LGBTQ+. Ze zochten vrijheid, maar werden sinds augustus tot nu, december, vijf, tien en zelfs vijftien keer teruggedreven naar Wit-Rusland.

Tijdens mijn nachtelijke tochten ben ik uitgerust met een grote rugzak vol thermoskannen warme soep, sokken, laarzen, jassen, handschoenen, sjaals, mutsen, pleisters, medicijnen en powerbanks. Ik loop in het donker en verschuil me achter bomen als ik helikopters hoor of de felle lichten van de politie zie. Ik hoor het geplons van de soep in de kannen op mijn rug, ik hoor mijn kortademigheid – niemand heeft me geleerd om te sluipen en onzichtbaar te zijn als een beroepsmilitair. Ik heb jarenlang voor mensenrechten gewerkt, de meeste EU-grenzen en vluchtelingenkampen bezocht, maar ik was nooit bang om takken onder mijn voeten te laten kraken of voor het ritselen van de bomen boven mijn hoofd terwijl ik me voortbeweeg.

Uit persoonlijke verhalen en bewijzen verzameld door Minority Rights Group International en collega’s van Grupa Granica, een alliantie van 14 Poolse maatschappelijke organisaties die reageren op de crisis, weten we dat er minstens 5.000 mensen in de bossen zijn geweest en dat er momenteel minstens 1.000 zijn. We hebben met iedereen contact gehad: wanhopige slachtoffers van een walgelijk machtsspel tussen staten.

Elke keer dat we reageren op een telefoontje van iemand in nood, of hun moeder die nog in Irak of Afghanistan is, of een neef in Berlijn, hangen we onze rugzakken om en gaan. Dag en nacht – lang nadat de wereld zijn interesse heeft verloren. Soms zijn we uren op zoek naar mensen. Die veranderen voor de veiligheid vaak van locatie. Soms zijn bejaarde grootmoeders of de kleine kinderen die geen energie meer hebben om te lopen, gestrand in Poolse moerassen. Nu de bossen bedekt zijn met sneeuw en mensen ons niet kunnen bellen omdat hun telefoons zijn vernietigd door het Poolse leger, gebruiken we infrarood camera’s.

We ontmoeten bange ogen, uitgeputte gezichten, lichamen kapot door de kou, wanhopig verzwakt na weken in het ijzige, natte bos. Bevroren, dorstige, hongerige mensen. Ik had geen idee wat honger betekende. Ik gaf mijn kinderen wel eens een stuk chocola als ze klaagden voor het eten. Ik heb armoedestatistieken en geschiedenisboeken gelezen. Ik wist niets van honger.

Mensen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland hebben al weken niet gegeten. Om de paar dagen krijgen ze, als ze geld hebben, misschien een oude aardappel van een Wit-Russische soldaat na een gewelddadige pushback over het prikkeldraad. Die delen ze met de kinderen. Ze hebben dagenlang niets te drinken. Of drinken moeras- of regenwater, dat maagkrampen en een verlammende hoofdpijn veroorzaakt, waardoor ze verder verzwakken.

We wensen hen het beste aan het einde van onze ontmoeting. Voor een paar dagen voldoende voedsel en water achterlaten is onmogelijk: niemand heeft de kracht om zoveel te dragen. We kunnen geen mensen meenemen of naar een veilige plek brengen. Dat zou een strafbaar feit zijn. Maar het is geen misdaad om deze mensen langzaam dood te laten gaan…

Waar is het Rode Kruis, de Internationale Organisatie voor Migratie van de VN en de VN-vluchtelingenorganisatie? Die organisaties die zelfs in oorlogsgebieden opereren? Die voedsel en water naar de gevaarlijkste criminelen brengen? Is Elina, 5, gevaarlijker of minder waard? Ze heeft epilepsie, maar geen medicijnen. Ik ontmoette haar in het bos met negen andere Koerden, allemaal zonder laarzen. Ze hebben thuis oorlogen en luchtaanvallen overleefd, maar kunnen in het Poolse bos doodvriezen. Bij elke pushback pakken Poolse en Wit-Russische officieren alles af: geld, kleding en schoeisel.

Er was de groep van negen vrouwen uit de Democratische Republiek Congo, waarschijnlijk verhandeld. Toen ik ze de situatie uitlegde, huilden en huilden ze maar. Of de Yezidi-zussen, die zeven jaar geleden ontsnapten aan de genocide in Sinjar, Irak, maar nog steeds op zoek zijn naar een veilige plek. Of de jongens uit Jemen, die perfect Engels spreken. Of de drie homoseksuele mannen uit Iran, wanhopig om niet teruggestuurd te worden naar Wit-Russische soldaten.

We blijven contact houden. Als ze erin slagen hun telefoons te verbergen, kunnen we communiceren na een pushback. Ze delen foto’s en video’s van Wit-Russische honden. Laten me bijtwonden zien als we elkaar aan de Poolse kant ontmoeten. Zij huilen. Ze vragen om advies. Ze willen hun familie niet vertellen over hun benarde situatie, maar ze hebben iemand nodig om mee te praten.

“De vijfde pushback. Na de zesde pleeg ik zelfmoord.”

“Ik heb mijn zoon verloren, hij heeft astma. De laatste keer dat hij belde was drie dagen geleden. Weet je waar hij is?”

“Wanneer ben je hier? Heb je water? Al is het een druppel?”

Onderworpen aan een desinformatiecampagne krijgen de vluchtelingen tegenstrijdige berichten van Wit-Russische diensten, die formulieren verspreiden over de vestiging in Polen of Duitsland. Dit schept hoop op een veilige reis. Maar het echte doel is om ze aan de Poolse grens neer te zetten om druk uit te oefenen op de EU. Sommige verontrustende berichten suggereren dat migranten worden gedwongen om deel te nemen aan geweld als onderdeel van Wit-Russische pogingen om Poolse functionarissen te provoceren.

Met het risico van een escalatie van geweld willen wij, de activisten in de bossen, de wereld eraan herinneren dat vluchtelingen geen agressors zijn. Ze zijn gijzelaars van het regime van Loekasjenko, dat hen voor zijn agenda gebruikt.

Polen sturen me berichten: “Waar moet ik warme en donkere kleding naartoe sturen?” “Hoe is de situatie aan de grens? De media laten ons alleen video’s zien van het Poolse ministerie of de Wit-Russische autoriteiten.” “Ik huil als ik mijn kinderen in bed stop. Schrijf alsjeblieft iets dat kan helpen.”

Dunja Mijatović, de commissaris voor mensenrechten van de Raad van Europa, verbleef vier dagen in Polen en ging met ons mee het veld in. Ze zei: “De grootste kracht van de hulpbeweging voor vluchtelingen aan de grens tussen Polen en Wit-Rusland zijn de inwoners van de naburige steden – in de noodzone en ernaast. Het is hun compassie en empathie die het leven van mensen in het bos verlengt. Hun moed en onbaatzuchtigheid. Hun goedheid redt levens.”

Anderen zien het natuurlijk anders: mensen die aan de grens helpen zijn “vijanden van de natie”, “agenten van Loekasjenko”, “schuldig aan het vernietigen van Europese waarden”, “het uitnodigen van terroristen hier”.

We maken ons schuldig aan het achterlaten van pakken water in het bos voor de dorstigen. We maken ons schuldig aan het uitdelen van soep. Aan schoenen aan koude voeten doen die niet meer konden bewegen. Als helpen illegaal is, begrijpen we dan wel wat misdaad is?

Anna Alboth is vrijwilliger bij Minority Rights Group

[7]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

Poland/Belarus: New evidence of abuses highlights ‘hypocrisy’ of unequal treatment of asylum-seekers 

  • Authorities violating rights of asylum-seekers, including strip searches and other degrading treatment, in overcrowded detention centres
  • Some people forcibly sedated during return
  • Pushbacks and arbitrary detention in stark contrast with welcome shown to those fleeing Ukraine
  • Spokespeople available

The Polish authorities have arbitrarily detained nearly two thousand asylum-seekers who crossed into the country from Belarus in 2021, and subjected many of them to abuse, including strip searches in unsanitary, overcrowded facilities, and in some cases even to forcible sedation and tasering, Amnesty International said today.

Additionally, after a hiatus during winter, more asylum-seekers are now trying to enter Poland from Belarus, where they are unable to access further funds due to international sanctions and risk harassment or apprehension by Belarusian police due their irregular immigration status. At the Polish border they face razor wire fences and repeated pushbacks by border guards sometimes up to 20-30 times.

“This violent and degrading treatment stands in stark contrast to the warm welcome Poland is offering to displaced people arriving from Ukraine. The behaviour of the Polish authorities smacks of racism and hypocrisy. Poland must urgently extend its admirable compassion for those entering the country from Ukraine to all those crossing its borders to seek safety.”

Arbitrary detention and abysmal detention conditions

Polish border guards have systematically rounded up and violently pushed back people crossing from Belarus, sometimes threatening them with guns. The vast majority of those who have been fortunate enough to avoid being pushed back to Belarus and to apply for asylum in Poland are forced into automatic detention, without a proper assessment of their individual situation and the impact detention would have on their physical and mental health. They are often held for prolonged and indefinite periods of time in overcrowded centres that offer little privacy and only limited access to sanitary facilities, doctors, psychologists, or legal assistance.

Almost all of the people Amnesty International interviewed said they were  traumatized after fleeing areas of conflict and being trapped for months on the Belarusian-Polish border. They also suffered from serious psychological problems, including anxiety, insomnia, depression and frequent suicidal thoughts, undoubtedly exacerbated by their unnecessary metres. For most, psychological support was unavailable.

Retraumatized inside a military base

Many of the people who Amnesty spoke to had been in Wędrzyn detention centre, which holds up to 600 people. Overcrowding is particularly acute in this facility, where up to 24 men are detained in rooms measuring just eight square metres.

In 2021, the Polish authorities decreased the minimum required space for foreign detainees from three square meters per person to just two. The Council of Europe minimum standard for personal living space in prisons and detention centres is four square meters per person.

People held in Wędrzyn recounted how guards greeted new detainees  by saying “welcome to Guantánamo”. Many of them were victims of torture in their home countries before enduring harrowing experiences both in Belarus and on the border of Poland. The detention centre in Wędrzyn forms part of an active military base. The facility’s barbed wire walls — and the persistent sound of armoured vehicles, helicopters and gunfire from military exercises in the area — only serves to retraumatize them.

In Lesznowola Detention Centre, detainees said that guards’ treatment left them feeling dehumanized. The staff called detainees by their case numbers instead of using their names and meted out excessive punishments, including isolation, for simple requests, such as asking for a towel or more food.

Nearly all those interviewed reported consistently disrespectful and verbally abusive behaviour, racist remarks and other practices that indicated psychological ill-treatment. 

Men who Amnesty International interviewed uniformly  complained about the manner in which body searches were  conducted. When people were  transferred from one detention centre to another, they were forced to undergo a strip search at each facility, even though they were in state custody at all times. In Wędrzyn, people recounted abusive searches. For example, all newly admitted foreigners are kept together in a room, required to remove all of their clothes and ordered to perform squats longer than necessary for a legitimate check.

Violent forcible returns

Amnesty International interviewed several people who were forcibly returned as well as some who avoided return and remain in detention in Poland. Many said the Polish border guards who conducted the returns coerced them into signing documents in Polish that they suspected included incriminating information in order to justify their returns. They also said that, in some cases, border guards used excessive force, such as tasers, restrained people with handcuffs, and even sedated those being returned. 

Authorities attempted to forcibly return Yezda, a 30-year old Kurdish woman , with her husband and three small children. After being told that the family would be returned to Iraq, Yezda panicked and screamed and pleaded with the guards not to take them. She threatened to take her life and became extremely agitated. “I knew I could not go back to Iraq and I was ready to die in Poland. While I was crying like that, two guards restrained me and my husband, tied our hands behind our backs, and a doctor gave us an injection that made us very weak and sleepy. My head was not clear, but I could hear my children, who were in the room with us, crying and screaming.”

“We were asked to go through the airport security and the guards told us to behave on the plane. But I refused to go. I remember noticing that I didn’t even have any shoes on, as in the chaos at the camp, they slipped of my feet. My head was not clear, and I couldn’t see my husband or the children, but I remember that they forced me on the plane that was full of people. I was still crying and pleading with the police not to take us.” Yezda said that she broke her foot as she fought the guards who tried to put her on the plane. Yezda and her family were returned to Warsaw after the airline refused to take them to Iraq. They remain in a camp in Poland for now.

Volunteers and activists have been barred from accessing the border of Poland and Belarus, and some have even faced prosecution for trying to help people cross the border. In March, activists who had helped people both on Poland’s borders with Ukraine and with Belarus were detained for providing life-saving assistance to refugees and migrants on the Belarussian border, and now face potentially serious charges.

Stranded at the border

On 20 March, the Belarusian authorities reportedly evicted close to 700 refugees and migrants, including many families with young children and people suffering from severe illnesses and disabilities, from the warehouse in the Belarusian village of Bruzgi which had accommodated several thousand people in 2021.

People who were evicted from the warehouse suddenly found themselves stranded in the forest, trying to survive in sub-zero temperatures without shelter, food, water or access to medical care. Many remain in the forest and experience daily abuse from the Belarusian border guards, who use dogs and violence to force people to cross the border into Poland.

“Hundreds of people fleeing conflict in the Middle East and other parts of the world remain stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland. The Polish government must immediately stop pushbacks. They are illegal no matter how the government tries to justify them. The international community – including the EU – must demand that those trapped on Poland’s border with Belarus be afforded the same access to EU territory as any other group seeking refuge in Europe,” said Jelena Sesar.

END OF THE ARTICLE

REPORT AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

The rapid relief effort at the border, exceptional generosity of civil society and willingness of Polish authorities to receive people fleeing from Ukraine contrast starkly with the Polish government’s hostility toward refugees and migrants who have arrived in the country via Belarus since July 2021. Hundreds of people who crossed from Belarus have been arbitrarily detained in Poland in appalling conditions and without access to a fair asylum proceeding. Many have been forcibly returned to their countries of origin, some under sedation. In addition, hundreds of people remain stranded inside Belarus and face increasingly desperate conditions.

END OF THIS PIECE

FULL REPORT

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND: CRUELTY, NOT COMPASSION, AT EUROPE’S OTHER BORDERS

11 APRIL 2022

https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/EUR3754602022ENGLISH.pdf

[8]

MEDICS LEAVE POLAND=BELARUS BORDER WITHOUT

REACHING MIGRANTS

https://www.dw.com/en/medics-leave-poland-belarus-border-without-reaching-migrants/a-60353514

Doctors Without Borders removed its team on the Belarus-Poland border after Warsaw blocked access to migrants trying to enter the European Union. Camped in harsh conditions, several people have died on the EU’s doorstep.

Despite knowing people along the Belarus-Poland border were “in desperate need of medical and humanitarian assistance,” the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it withdrew its emergency response team from the region.

“Since October, MSF has repeatedly requested access to the restricted area and the border guard posts in Poland, but without success,” Frauke Ossig, the charity’s emergency coordinator for Poland and Lithuania, said on Thursday.

“We know that there are still people crossing the border and hiding in the forest, in need of support, but while we are committed to assisting people on the move wherever they may be, we have not been able to reach them in Poland,” Ossig added.

MSF said it was concerned that restricting access to major aid organizations could result in more deaths and such policies were “another example of the EU deliberately creating unsafe conditions for people to seek asylum at its borders.”

While many of the migrants received shelter in a logistics center, a number of people are reported to have died in the freezing, harsh conditions along the border.

Why can’t aid groups reach migrants and asylum-seekers?

On December 1, Poland’s Interior Ministry extended a state of emergency that prohibits all non-residents, including journalists and non-governmental aid groups, from the border area.

“People are being attacked and beaten at the hands of border guards, and yet state officials continue to allow the practice of pushing people between borders knowing that such maltreatment continues,” MSF said.

With thousands of people on the Belarusian side of the 400-kilometer (250-mile) stretch, Poland built a barbed-wire fence that it intends to replace with a permanent barrier and sent thousands of soldiers to the border, leaving the migrants stuck in camps in no man’s land and unable to apply for asylum in the European Union.

Polish border guards accused of illegal ‘pushbacks’

Polish border guards have been accused of forcibly pushing migrants and asylum-seekers back into Belarus — a move that breaches international law. At least 21 people have lost their lives in the attempt in 2021, MSF reported.

In December, the Polish civil society group Salam Lab reported that five Syrian and one Palestinian who managed to find their way outside Poland’s exclusion zone said they had been pushed back to Belarus several times by Polish authorities.

EU nations Latvia and Lithuania, which also share borders with Belarus, have also reinforced their border security and declared a state of emergency. MSF said it had not received access to migrants at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.

The European Union has accused Belarus’ authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East to attempt to enter the EU through Belarus.

Belarus denies this and has urged the EU to take in the migrants.

“The current situation is unacceptable and inhumane,” Ossig said. “People have the right to seek safety and asylum and should not be illegitimately pushed back to Belarus.”

[9]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

POLAND/BELARUS: NEW EVIDENCE OF ABUSES HIGHLIGHTS 

”HYPOCRISY” OF UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF ASYLUM SEEKERS

11 APRIL 2022

SEE FOR FULL TEXT, NOTE 7

[10]

SEE NOTE 10

SEE ALSO THE LINK

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Swedish Iranian national sentenced to death/NO to death penalty!/Letter to the Iranian ambassador in Belgium

Image result for Gallows/Images
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Electric chair at the Florida State Prison

NO AGAINST DEATH PENALTY!

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MY PEN DEFENDS WHAT’S RIGHT

SWEDISH IRANIAN NATIONAL SENTENCED TO DEATH/NO TO DEATH PENALTY!/LETTER TO THE IRANIAN AMBASSADOR IN BELGIUM

IMMINENT EXECUTION AT 21 MAY 2022!PREVENT THISWRITE TO THE IRANIAN EMBASSY IN BELGIUM MAILADRESS:secretariat@iranembassy.be

SAVE A LIFE!THANKS IN ADVANCE’
SEE ALSO [IN DUTCH]
Volgens de bron van ISNA zou zijn executie plaatsvinden voor het einde van de Iraanse maand Ordibehesht, wat overeenkomt met 21 mei 2022”

https://www.amnesty-international.be/help-djalali

Article 3

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

THIS IS THE ASTRID ESSED LETTER

TO THE AMBASSADOR OF THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN
Subject:The imminent execution of mr Ahmadreza Djalali
Your Excellency,
Hereby I want to draw your attention to the following:From reliable sources I’ve learnt about the imminent execution of the Swedish-Iranian academic, mr Ahmadreza Djalali [1] and I write to you with the urgent request to issue your influence to prevent thisexecution.Reason?Because I am of the opinion, that the death penalty is a cruel and inhumanepunishment, which is also irreversible.
BACKGROUND:
According to my information, mr Djalali was sentenced to death forthe charge of ”corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz) [2]and has given a 200 000 euro fine.According to my information, the court verdict states, thatmr Djalali worked with the Israeli government [3], which means espionage.
However, I learnt, that his trial was, according tothe information of Amnesty International, ”grosslyunfair” [4] and also that he supposedly wastortured. [5]Of course you understand, that any confession, thatis made under torture, is illegal.

DEATH PENALTY 
But even when his trial has been fair and he was not tortured, I reqquest to you to urge your influence toprevent the death penalty.Not only, in my opinion, the ending of a human lifeis always illegal and wrong, whether done by theState, or by an individual, because all human beingshave the right to life, problem with the death penaly is also, that this is irreversible.What if the person turns to be innocent?When someone is sentenced to imprisonment,he can be released, but death is death.I bring in your memory two famous British flawsof Justice:The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven [6]If there had been a death penalty in the United Kingdom,they couldn’t have been released.
Your Excellency, this is very, very serious and grave, since it concerns a human lifeTherefore I took my time to write to you toprevent this execution, as I did so many times, whenit concerned executions in one of the headmen onthe area of executions, the USA, and also other countries.
So I speak out hope, that you will do everything inyour Power to stop this.Time is pressing, since the execution is imminent[21 may]
Human Life belongs to our Lord and Father God.Only He may end it.Not the State, not other human beings.
Thanks for reading my LetterI hope you will help
Kind regards
Astrid EssedAmsterdam The Netherlands
NOTES

[1]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONALIRAN: EXECUTION LOOMS FOR TORTURED ACADEMIC: AHMADREZA DJALALI5 MAY 2021
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5567/2022/en/

IRAN DEATH PENALTY

Tortured Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, arbitrarily detained in Tehran’s Evin prison, is at risk of imminent execution according to multiple Iranian state media reports that his death sentence for “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz) will be carried out by 21 May 2022 at the latest. He was sentenced to death in 2017 following a grossly unfair trial that relied on torture-tainted “confessions.” The authorities must halt any plans to execute him and release him immediately.

[2]

”Zeynab Taheri, one of Ahmadreza Djalali’s lawyers, told Amnesty International that he was sentenced to death for the charge of “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz), and has been given a 200,000 euro fine.”
AMNESTY INTERNATIONALIRAN: PROMINENT ACADEMIC SENTENCEDTO DEATH AFTER GROSSLY UNFAIR TRIAL23 OCTOBER 2017
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/iran-prominent-academic-sentenced-to-death-after-grossly-unfair-trial/

The Iranian authorities must urgently quash the death sentence against Iranian-born Swedish resident and specialist in emergency medicine Ahmadreza Djalali, said Amnesty International today.

The medical doctor and university lecturer had studied and taught in Sweden, Italy and Belgium. Since his arrest in April 2016, several European officials have called for his release.

Zeynab Taheri, one of Ahmadreza Djalali’s lawyers, told Amnesty International that he was sentenced to death for the charge of “corruption on earth” (ifsad fil-arz), and has been given a 200,000 euro fine. The court verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Ahmadreza Djalali worked with the Israeli government, who subsequently helped him obtain his residency permit in Sweden.

“Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that once again exposes not only the Iranian authorities’ steadfast commitment to use of the death penalty but their utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“No evidence has ever been presented to show that he is anything other than an academic peacefully pursuing his profession. If he has been convicted and sentenced for peacefully exercising his rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including through his academic work, the authorities must immediately and unconditionally release him and drop all charges against him.”

Ahmadreza Djalali was arrested by Ministry of Intelligence officials in April 2016 and held without access to a lawyer for seven months, three of which were in solitary confinement. Even after that period, every lawyer he selected was rejected by the court.

In a voice recording that was published on YouTube on 22 October, Ahmadreza Djalali is heard saying that, while in solitary confinement, he was twice forced to make “confessions” in front of a video camera by reading out statements pre-written by his interrogators. He says that he was put under intense pressure through psychological torture and threats to execute him and arrest his children to “confess” to being a spy for a “hostile government”. In the recording, he says that his academic beliefs have been used to convict him and sentence him to death. He also denies the accusations against him and says they have been fabricated by Ministry of Intelligence interrogators.

“At a time when the Iranian authorities are actively strengthening ties with countries in the European Union, it is absurd that they are using Ahmadreza Djalali’s academic links to a European country as part of the ‘evidence’ against him,” said Philip Luther.

Ahmadreza Djalali’s wife Vida Mehrannia, who lives in Sweden with their two children, has told Amnesty International that his physical and mental health have sharply deteriorated since he was detained. She added: “We are calling for his release because he has not committed any crime.”

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

[3]

”The court verdict, which was shown to one of the lawyers, states that Ahmadreza Djalali worked with the Israeli government, who subsequently helped him obtain his residency permit in Sweden.”

AMNESTY INTERNATIONALIRAN: PROMINENT ACADEMIC SENTENCEDTO DEATH AFTER GROSSLY UNFAIR TRIAL23 OCTOBER 2017
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/iran-prominent-academic-sentenced-to-death-after-grossly-unfair-trial/

[4]

”“Ahmadreza Djalali was sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial that once again exposes not only the Iranian authorities’ steadfast commitment to use of the death penalty but their utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.”
AMNESTY INTERNATIONALIRAN: PROMINENT ACADEMIC SENTENCEDTO DEATH AFTER GROSSLY UNFAIR TRIAL23 OCTOBER 2017
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/iran-prominent-academic-sentenced-to-death-after-grossly-unfair-trial/

[5]

AMNESTY INTERNATIONALIRAN: EXECUTION LOOMS FOR TORTURED ACADEMIC: AHMADREZA DJALALI5 MAY 2021
https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde13/5567/2022/en/

IRAN DEATH PENALTY

Tortured Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali, arbitrarily detained in Tehran’s Evin prison, is at risk of imminent execution according to multiple Iranian state media reports that his death sentence for “corruption on earth” (efsad-e fel-arz) will be carried out by 21 May 2022 at the latest. He was sentenced to death in 2017 following a grossly unfair trial that relied on torture-tainted “confessions.” The authorities must halt any plans to execute him and release him immediately.

[6]

WIKIPEDIA

GUILDFOUR FOUR AND MAGUIRE SEVEN

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guildford_Four_and_Maguire_Seven

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The Will Smith-Chris Rock incident/I STAND WITH WILL SMITH!/A true husband defends his wife!

Will Smith Wallpapers High Quality Download 2500x3521


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MY PEN DEFENDS WHAT’S RIGHT

MY PEN DEFENDS WHAT’S RIGHT

I STAND WITH WILL SMITH!/A TRUE HUSBAND DEFENDS HIS WIFE
WHY?
Usually I don’t focus on Celebrity news, finding that world, although sometimesamusing,childish, brainless, superficial and hyper sensational, but this is a matterof principle!

WHAT HAPPENED HERE?
On Oscars stage, actor, rapper and filmproducer Will Smith [1] slappedcomedian Chris Rock [2]  in the face on stage after the comic made a joke aboutWill Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett. [3]
When reading this, one will ask:Where is all the fuss about?Why Chris Rock should not make a joke about Will Smith’s wife?Is that a reason to act violently?
That would be a reasonable question and when it were ”just a joke”I would consider the act of Will Smith unjustified and unreasonable too.
But it was not ”just a joke”, neither was it the first time that Chris Rockwas provoking and insulting [these are my very words, yes] Will Smith’s wife:
CHRIS ROCK’S SICK JOKES
The socalled ”Joke” of Chris Rock, referring to Will Smith’s wife, was aboutJada’s appearance.Now that is not necessary a reason for any husband to go bananas [4], butwhere was Rock talking about?He referred to something very painful:at Jada’s closely shaven head. [5]
Is that some of a problem, one of my readers will ask?
YES, DEAR READERS, IT IS!AND WHY?
Because Jada Pinkett has ALOPECIA, a n auto-immune disorder that causes hair loss!  [6]
BBC suggested, that perhaps Chris Rock didn’t know aboutthis illness of Jada Pinkett [7], but I can’t believe that, sinceJada Pinkett revealed the information about her sickness in 2018 [8] and if BBC knows, how in the earth the Afro American Chris Rock doesn’t?
But that’s not all:
BBC reveals, that Chris Rock didn’t mock and in sult Jada Pinkettfor the first time, but regularly:
See note 9
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
So there comes a time, that enough is enough!Not only Chris Rock mocked Jada Pinkett whileshe has a serious hair loss illness, which isfar below level, he also did this repeatedly.
Therefore I can fully imagine, that Will Smith, who ismostly very correct, thought:Enough is enough.

THE PUNCH!
So Will Smith punched Rock.Is that justified?
Of course, I agree that there are other ways to handle this:
He could have yelled during the Oscar Awards performance ofChris Rock:”Don’t insult my wife!”

But a human being is just a human being andhe choose not to.

I can understand that:What goes around, comes around.
And remember readers, that being a comedian andmaking all sort of jokes on a stage, gives someonea position of Power at the cost of one in the audience,who is mocked by him or her and is usually not in a positionof advantage to react on that moment.
In most cases that’s not such a big deal, because thesocalled ”jokes” are relatively innocent.
And after all, there is freedom of opinion and comediansare supposed to say more than others, since it isentertainment and light humour.
But humour has it’s limits and ends when peopleare really hurt on the ground of race, colour, religion,sexual orientation etc.
And certainly when it refers to someones illness,
THAT’S a line comedian must never cross andChris Rock did that, not one time, but regularly. [10]
So I can understand, that Will Smith, furious of course,thought that this was the ultimatum way to makeit clear to this coward [because insulting peopleon their health issues IS an act of cowardice]that he went to far.
EPILOGUE
According to  my opinion, a real husband defendshis wife and doesn’t allow another human being, especially aman, to hurt and insult his wife
A punch may not be the best solution, but if ever, this so-called ”comedian” Chris Rock provoked it.
And because I like men, who defend the people they love,
I STAND WITH WILL SMITH!

ASTRID ESSED

And in honour of Will Smith, a major, impressive piecefrom my favourite Will Smith film:The pursuit of happyness
ENJOY!
YOUTUBE.COMTHE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS: CHRIS IS HIRED
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_6vjb1cJkE
NOTES
NOTES 1 T/M 8

NOTES 9 AND 10

ARTICLES WITH THE FULL TEXTS

YOUTUBE FILMS ABOUT THE WILL SMITH-CHRISROCK INCIDENT

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Publication in the Baltic Times/2015/About the Muhammad cartoons

PUBLICATION IN THE BALTIC TIMES/2015/ABOUT THE MUHAMMAD CARTOONS
https://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/14884/

Cartoons again

  •  2006-03-15
  •  By Astrid Essed

I’ve learnt with astonishment about the assumption of a number of European newspapers that the publication of the Danish cartoons by the Jylands Posten, picturing the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist, is being considered as freedom of opinion. In the first place, freedom of opinion is not absolute but is limited by local and European legislation, which forbids verbal or public insulting utterances against the religion of a group of people. In the second place, editions of newspapers are to be expected to show an elementary respect regarding the religious values of minority groups, living in their countries.

Evidently the official Arab and Iranian government reactions, boycotting Danish products and asking the Danish government to justify itself, are not only extra-proportional, but also deny the fact that a government is not responsible for the management policy of a paper edition.

Apart from the publications of the cartoons, the outbursts of violence must also be seen in the light of the common feelings of powerlessness and humiliation regarding the European support for the British-American occupation of Iraq and the growing anti-Islam climate in Europe.

Seen in this light, I consider the republishing of the Danish cartoons by a number of European newspapers not only provocative but also contrary to the fundamental human rights principles, which are based on respect for all human beings, regardless of descent or religion.

Amsterdam

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[From 2004, published by the Russian Pravda]/The verdict of Israeli High Court regarding the Wall

Israel Palestine Wall Picture Picture

ASTRID ESSED: THE VERDICT OF ISRAELI HIGH COURTREGARDING THE WALL6 JULY 2004

https://english.pravda.ru/opinion/6077-israel/

pinion » Readers feedback

Dear Editor,

Astrid Essed: The verdict of Israeli high court regarding the Wall

The recent verdict of the Israeli High Court, which states that the building of the Israeli Wall at the West Bank must be adjusted with 30 kilometers because of the violations of human rights is not only a partial fullfilling of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population, but is also in contarily with International Law.

In the first place the motivation for the verdict is being based on the fact that because of the building of the Wall the inhabitants of the Beit Surik community had no entrance to their agricultural grounds and schools, but in the named verdict the Court doesn’t refer to the other Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank [85.000 people], who are likewise excluded from their agricultural grounds.

In the second place the Israeli building of the Wall is as such a violation of International Law, because it cuts deeply in the occupied Palestinian areas which is a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 dd 1967 by which Israel was summoned  to withdraw from the in the june-war occupied Palestinian areas.

Further the building of the Wall is being made possible by hugh Palestinian landownings which is yet apart from the flagrant injustice a violation of International Law [the 4th Geneva Convention] which forbids land and house-ownings of ”protected people” [people who are living under an occupation] It is therefore highly recommendable, that the Israeli High Court adjusts its vedict according to the principles of International Law.


Astrid Essed
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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See more at https://english.pravda.ru/opinion/6077-israel/

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[From 2003/Astrid Essed]/Warcrimes in Iraq were widespread

Usa Army Soldiers in Iraq

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US Army Soldiers check at Checkpoint in Mahmur Village,Kurdistan,Iraq.

https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=1966855&ref=mobile

KOREA JOONGANG DAILY
WARCRIMES IN IRAQ WERE WIDESPREAD[LETTERSTO THE EDITOR]/WARCRIMES IN IRAQ WERE WIDESPREAD

17 APRIL 2003
https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=1966855&ref=mobile

Although I fully agree with holding a trial for leaders of the former Iraqi regime, it is a matter of justice that British and Americans also be put on trial for war crimes.
In their air strikes, the United States and Britain used cluster bombs, which are internationally forbidden by the Treaty of Ottawa because of the big risk to civilians. According to international law, the use of weapons with an enlarged risk for civilians is a war crime.
Several times Iraqi civilians were shot by American troops at checkpoints. The justification by military spokesmen, referring to a suicide attack by an Iraqi soldier in civilian clothes, made no sense, because shooting civilians is always a war crime, according to international law.

by Astrid Essed

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The Ukrainian Tragedy/Vladimir Putin and the West/A notorious Couple for the Goat’s Wagon!

De Russische president Poetin en zijn Oekraïense collega Zelensky ontmoeten elkaar vandaag voor het eerst. Tijdens een top in Parijs staat beëindiging van de oorlog in Oost-Oekraïne op de agenda.

THE RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN AND UKRAINE’S PRESIDENTZELENSKY

THE UKRAINIAN TRAGEDY/VLADIMIR PUTIN AND THE WEST/ANOTORIOUS COUPLE FOR THE GOAT’S WAGON!
Uncensured 
[First impressions, originally written in Dutch, on 25 february 2022In Dutchhttps://www.astridessed.nl/de-oekraine-tragedie-poetin-en-het-westen-een-mooi-stel-voor-de-bokkenwagen/]

”When Elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”
African proverb
https://www.orcabook.com/When-Elephants-Fight#:~:text=When%20elephants%20fight%2C%20it%20is,the%20small%20who%20suffer%20most.

Perhaps I’ll write more about the Ukrain Tragedy, but I don’t promise anything

Although it was to be expected, yet I was shocked by that pure act ofagression, the Russian attack on the sovereign State of Ukraine.I am certainly no supporter of president Putin [1], committer of serioushuman rights violations in Russia and still worse, in Chechnya [2]like his predecessors, but that being said:The ones that condemn Putin most for his unlawful attack, namely the USA and the EU, are birds of the same feather:What about the US led attack on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? [3]Was the attack on Iraq in contrary to International Law or not! [4]Were not those countries sovereign States, like Ukraine?Are warcrimes not committed on large scale in those US led wars? [5]
Certainly I am NOT a supporter of Putin at all and I am a fervent opponentof the division of the world into international Power Blocs, as if the world werea sort of mighty Cake [Ukraine for the Ukrainian people!].

But seen from a geopolitical point of view [not mine], I do understand, thatPutin is furious about the disturbed Game of Power since the late eightiesof the 20th century, called ”Perestroika” [6] and the fall of the Sovjet Empire,from which Western Europe took advantage by practically incorporate the Eastern European countries by the EU, countries, that back in the days belonged to the Warsaw Pact, the great enemy of the US led Western European NATO [7]

Granted, membership of the EU [8] was the own will of the new European governments and their people and the former Russian occupation and oppression of Eastern Europe was not right at all, but here I am talking, not about Eastern European rights, but the INTENTION of Western Europe.And that was:To weaken what was left of the Russian Empire…..

And we’ve witnessed the desastrous consequences of a world, ruled byone Super Power, the USA.Look at the bloody wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc! [9]

EU, TWO FACED LIAR!
And the EU is a two faced liar anyway!Now, when they can use it against Russia and for their own propaganda,they welcome Ukrainian refugees ‘[10] and don’t get me wrong:I am pleased with the saving of those war-refugees!But when desperate Syrian and Iraqi refugees [in both wars US and the EU took partand committed warcrimes] fled to Poland, via Belarus, EU member Polandbuilt a Wall and pushed the refugees back, letting them freeze and starvein the wintercold…….[11]

With the ”blessing” of the EU…….[12]

HELP ME, PLEASE
I will never forget the sight of an old Ukrainian Lady,who seemed to have nobody to support here, bursting out in tearsand begging to the camera, begging to us:”HELP ME, PLEASE”
That touched me deeply:
I have no sympathy for and nothing to do with leaders of State, whether Russianor US/Western European and their deadly and sick game powers.NO, my sympathy lies with common Ukrainian people, who are thereal victims of the military adventures of powerseeking countriesand rulers:


”When Elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”

How true……..

ASTRID ESSED

SEE FOR NOTES
NOTES1 T/M 12

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Opgeslagen onder Divers

Astrid Essed Attack on Budimex, contractor of the Poland-Belarus Wall in the war on migrants

ASTRID ESSED ATTACK ON BUDIMEX, CONTRACTOR OFTHE POLAND-BELARUS WALL IN THE WAR ON MIGRANTS

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists

The Massini family from Syria, father Muhammad (second left), mother Alaa (centre) and their two sons, with activists. Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP/Getty Images
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

Fallen tree in the Białowieża Forest

Bialowieza National Park in Poland0029.JPG
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest

FOR BUDIMEX, ONLY THEIR BLOOD MONEY AND THE BIALOWIEZA FOREST COUNTS, NOTTHE REFUGEES WHO DIE IN IT…….

https://www.budimex.pl/en/about-budimex/news/commencement-of-works-on-the-border-wall.html

TOBUDIMEXTHE GREAT CONSTRUCTION GROUP, OPERATINGIN POLAND

BOARD OF DIRECTORSMANAGEMENT
Subject:About your construction of a Wall between Poland and Belarus
Demand:Stop earning blood moneyStop your cooperation with forced deportations, pushbacks andmistreatment of refugeesStop your cooperation with the violation of one of the most elementaryhuman rights!

Dear Board of DirectorsDear Management
Sometimes reality seems worse than the most creepy horror movie.Not because horror movies can’t be frightening, but because they are just for amusement and not real, although made very realistic.
But when you read and see actings in the real world, especiallyfrom politicians and their partners in crime, you realize that here arereal people involved, who really suffer and with them their families andother loved ones.That is the moment, that it is really freezing around me and others, who seekfor elementary justice.
And you, board of directors and management, have violated the most elementary human rights by constructing a Wall between Poland and Belarus.The proof is in your own declaration, under P/S, before my notes.
SHAME TO YOU!
Because you know completely well the aim of this Wall:To prevent warstricken and hunted refugees to seek for a safe homeby building a Wall on the outskirts, the outer borders of the EU borders!Because that’s the aim of the Polish government [1] and you know thatfull well!
ELEMENTARY RIGHTS
Every human being has the right to ask for asylum, as written inthe Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 18 ofthe EU Charter of Fundamental Rights  [2], but all the Polish government did was putting an armyon her border, not only preventing refugees, trapped between Belarusand Poland to enter the EU and ask for asylum, but also treatingthem very badly [3] and using evil and forbidden practices likepushbacks [4], such as was described in an Human Rights Watch Report ””DIE HERE OR GO TO POLAND”BELARUS’ AND POLAND’S SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BORDER ABUSES [5]
YOUR COOPERATION WITH HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
So I refer to illegal pushbacks of the Polish government, that doesn’t and didn”t care about the fact, that refugees nearly were freezing to death [6],that refugees actually DID die in that no mans land between Polandand Belarus [7], a government that also mistreated refugees [8] and whatis your role?
Not only you are supporting the government in theie evil ways  by constructingthis Wall of Death and Despair, and earning Blood Money, you even have the nerve only to care about the environmental value of the Bialowieza Forest!I quote you [SEE UNDER P/S]”We understand the emotions that surround the issue of the construction of the wall on the border between Poland and Belarus, in particular, in the Białowieża Forest section; therefore, our representatives consulted the local governments on 26 January 2022. The meeting was attended by military representatives, heads of five gminas located within the development project area, forest district representatives and the Staroste of the Hajnowski Poviat.”

And don’t get me wrong:I also care for and value the great value of the Bialowieza Forest as avery important primeval forest [9], but I value human lives more andwhen people are dying in that forest I think everyone should valuetheir lives in the first place.
But you don’t care, because in your declaration [see under P/S]NOT A WORD ABOUT THE REFUGEES, WHO SUFFERED IN THEBIALOWIEZA FOREST, BECAUSE OF THE POLISH GOVERNMENT,WHICH DENIED THEM THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS!
DEMAND
I have referred to the great Injustice and the atrocities, done by the Polishgovernment to desperate refugees, mentioned in the Human Rights report andin a Statement of Amnesty International [10]
Also I mentioned your supportive role and the Blood Money, you earn with yourconstruction of this Wall.
I don’t know how many letters you have received to protest against yourpractices.I presume, not many and perhaps I am unimportant in your eyes, representingno government or great organisation.
But that doesn’t matter, because each Voice counts.
And trillion drops of water form an Ocean.
Get back on your Path of Evil, because more protests will come.
This is only the Beginning.
You have chosen your Side.
Change your construction of this Wall of Death, or else youwill be condemned by men or women of justice and in each case,by History.

Kind greetings
Astrid EssedAmsterdamThe NetherlandsEurope
P/S

STATEMENT OF BUDIMEX[NOTES BELOW]

Commencement of works on the border wall

https://www.budimex.pl/en/about-budimex/news/commencement-of-works-on-the-border-wall.html

News date: January 28, 2022Commencement of works on the border wall

On 25 January 2022, the Border Guards handed over to the contractors the construction site for the construction of the 186-kilometre wall on the border between Poland and Belarus. The contractor of the wall in the Białowieża Forest section is Budimex. The company makes every effort to ensure that works are carried out professionally and with respect for residents and the environment. Budimex will carry out works on the 100-kilometre section, and the border zone along the Białowieża Forest accounts for less than 40% of its length.

We understand the emotions that surround the issue of the construction of the wall on the border between Poland and Belarus, in particular, in the Białowieża Forest section; therefore, our representatives consulted the local governments on 26 January 2022. The meeting was attended by military representatives, heads of five gminas located within the development project area, forest district representatives and the Staroste of the Hajnowski Poviat.

During the meeting with the representatives of local governments, we confirmed that we have extensive experience in implementing projects in diverse environments. We carry out construction work, for example, in protected areas, including Natura 2000 areas in many places in Poland. The warehouses used to store our construction materials are and will be neutral for the environment. Our compliance with strict environmental standards is confirmed by numerous certificates – our construction sites have been issued with more than 100 BREEAM or LEED sustainable building certificates.

Although the contract does not require us to do so as a contractor, there will be external environmental supervision of the entire project. We understand that the Białowieża Forest is extremely valuable, and we want to work with respect for its ecosystem. The team assigned to the project has the highest level of competence to perform this task.

The works on the wall, transport and storage of raw materials will be carried out in accordance with the best construction and environmental standards. Our plan includes:

  • securing the soil with double and triple isolation to prevent leakage,
  • the use of spill kits,
  • covering and securing construction equipment repair points,
  • securing fuel tanks,
  • sorting and securing waste points,
  • preparation of separate points for hazardous waste,
  • fencing and monitoring of the area.

Our works will be carried out during the day, and the planned truck traffic at the construction location is several vehicles per hour. Upon completion, all roads will be restored to their original condition or will be improved.

Works on the entire project will take just six months. We are also on the list of strategic companies from a defence perspective. Therefore, we have a duty to act for the benefit of the country in the event of special situations from a security point of view. We responded in the same way to the calls for the construction of temporary hospitals or the completion of road and rail works after other general contractors had abandoned their contracts.

Our aim is to perform the contract through transparent subcontractor selection rules while respecting the interests of local communities and the environment. We make every effort to minimise the inconveniences for the residents and take into account the needs of the natural forest environment.”

BUDIMEX.PL

COMMENCEMENT OF WORKS ON THE BORDER WALL

https://www.budimex.pl/en/about-budimex/news/commencement-of-works-on-the-border-wall.html

[NOTES BELOW]

SEE FOR THE NOTES

WRITTEN NOTES[1]

THE GUARDIANPOLAND STARTS BUILDING WALL THROUGH PROTECTEDFOREST AT BELARUS BORDER27 JANUARY 2022
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/27/poland-starts-building-wall-through-protected-forest-at-belarus-border

Poland has started building a wall along its frontier with Belarus aimed at preventing asylum seekers from entering the country, which cuts through a protected forest and Unesco world heritage site.

The Polish border guard said the barrier would measure 186km (115 miles), almost half the length of the border shared by the two countries, reach up to 5.5 metres (18ft) and cost €353m (£293m). It will be equipped with motion detectors and thermal cameras.

Poland has accused Belarus’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, of deliberately provoking a new refugee crisis in Europe by organising the movement of people from the Middle East to Minsk and promising them a safe passage to the EU in revenge for the sanctions Brussels has imposed on his authoritarian regime.

Thousands of asylum seekers, mainly from Syria, Iraqi Kurdistan and Afghanistan, were caught attempting to cross the frontier and were violently pushed back to Belarus by Poland’s border guards, and hundreds of families were trapped in the forest between the two countries in the midst of a frigid winter.

At least 19 people have died since the beginning of the border standoff between Poland and Belarus. Most of them died of exposure to freezing temperatures.

The humanitarian emergency reached its peak in November when Belarusian authorities escorted thousands of asylum seekers to the Polish border. Dozens of refugees told the Guardian how Belarusian troops gathered groups of up to 50 people and cut the barbed wire with shears to allow them to cross.

“The construction of the barrier on the Polish-Belarusian border has started,” said a statement from the Polish border guard on Twitter. “It is the largest construction investment in the history of the border guard.”

The cost is approximately 10 times the whole budget of Poland’s migration department this year.

The news has raised human rights concerns among aid workers and charities worried that refugees fleeing conflicts and starvation will not be able to apply for asylum, and there are also environmental concerns. “This money could be used to build and launch [an] effective and humane migration, reception and asylum policy,” said a spokesperson for Ocalenie Foundation, which supports refugees living in Poland. “No wall in the history of the world stopped migration. Also, it would be a disaster for the nature in Białowieża area.”

The Białowieża forest world heritage site, on the border between Poland and Belarus, is an immense range of primary forest including conifers and broadleaved trees. It is home to the largest population of European bison.

Anna Alboth, of Minority Rights Group and a member of Grupa Granica, a Polish network of NGOs monitoring the situation on the border, said: “Walls are dividing, not protecting. The decision about building such a wall on the Polish-Belarusian border is not only lawless but also brings a risk of irreversible harm to the environment, in one of the most rich natural places of Poland and the whole of Europe.

“Instead of spending money on walls and private companies, it should be spending on developing a migration policy that prioritises human rights and safety of the people on the move, local people, animals and nature.”

A border guard spokesperson, Anna Michalska, told Poland’s PAP news agency that the “intention is for the damage to be as small as possible”. She said: “Tree felling will be limited to the minimum required. The wall itself will be built along the border road.” Contractors would only make use of existing roads, she said.

Last year Warsaw’s rightwing government quadrupled the presence of border guards and military personnel in the area, creating a two-mile deep militarised zone, and built a razor-wire fence, in a show of force unknown in the country since the end of the cold war. Dozens of checkpoints were placed along the perimeter of the so-called red zone, which is inaccessible to aid workers and journalists.

Last week Poland’s supreme court condemned the government for preventing reporters from accessing the area. Judges in Warsaw said the ban was incompatible with Polish law and that “there is no justification for admitting that this particular professional group represents a threat to steps taken”.

END OF THE ARTICLE

[2]

Article 14

1. Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

Article 18

Right to asylum

The right to asylum shall be guaranteed with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees and in accordance with the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Treaties’).

CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF

THE EUROPEAN UNION

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:12012P/TXT

OR

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

[3]

THE GUARDIANON THE FROZEN FRONTIERS OF EUROPE WITHTHE MIGRANTS CAUGHT IN A LETHAL GAME

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

On the outskirts of the Białowieża forest – which bestrides the border between south-east Poland and Belarus – a group of seven Iraqi Kurds make their weary way towards the Polish hamlet of Grodzisk.

The latest miles of their journey have been from Belarus – crossing back and forth twice, deported after their first and second attempts. Now a third time: through sub-zero temperatures, across the primeval forest’s marshy terrain. Among them are two children: an eight-month-old girl and a two-year-old boy. When we came upon them, they were afraid to get up off the ground and begged us not to call the police, whispering: “They’ll kill us.”

The infant was still, though not asleep. They looked like waxen figures, their faces blank, though one woman’s face was covered in bruises.

This is one group among the thousands of migrants trapped in a perilous purgatorial terrain between Belarus and Poland, as gateway to the European Union, where they seek refuge and asylum. That gate has slammed shut, claiming eight known migrant lives so far. Poland’s rightwing government has secured parliamentary authority to build a Donald Trump-style wall the length of its frontier with Belarus, and meanwhile patrols the territory with a force of some 17,000 border police reinforced by military personnel.

The Polish government argues that it is a deliberate policy by Belarus to undermine the EU’s south eastern border by encouraging refugees to pour in. The government has also established a two-mile militarised zone adjacent to the frontier, from which medical services, volunteer aid workers and reporters are banned. Crystal van Leeuwen, a medical emergency manager with Médecins Sans Frontières, told the Guardian last week that NGOs must urgently gain access to the secure zone for migrants’ claims and international protection to be respected.

The migrants are part not only of the exodus in flight from war and other tribulation where they began their journeys – across the Middle East and Africa – but also pawns in a game between Belarus and Poland. Many are lured by Belarusian travel bureaux, controlled by the authoritarian government of Alexander Lukashenko, which, as middlemen, organise trips from the Middle East to Minsk, promising passage to the EU.

The Iraqi Kurdish group is from Duhok, near the Turkish border. It is the scene of intense recent intra-Kurdish fighting, and Turkish strikes against the Kurdish PKK organisation. The mother of the children, 28-year-old Amila Abedelkader, said that the group was lured to Belarus by a travel agency that would arrange travel by plane from Istanbul to Minsk, and access to the Polish border.

Migrants are charged €15,000-€20,000 when they reach Belarus. Airport photos show their arrival wearing shorts and T-shirts, clearly unaware of the temperatures awaiting them. They are then installed in state hotels managed by the regime, from which officially assigned buses and even taxis transfer them to the Polish or Lithuanian border.

Belarusian border guards then shove them past the fence. “Some migrants we saw had their faces sliced with barbed wire,” says volunteer aid worker Katarzyna Wappa. “We have amateur films showing how the Belarusians drive the migrants forward. The border guards stand there with snarling attack dogs in full battle gear.”

Abdelkader says her group had made their first crossing into Poland in early October, but were forced back by guards. Trapped between borders, they were given nothing to drink or eat. “The Polish guards caught us and pushed us back. They said: ‘Go back to Belarus.’ And the Belarusian soldier said: ‘No, no go back to Poland.’ When the water was all finished, my brother asked Polish soldiers for some water to drink. Every day we asked about water. They say: ‘No, no.’” The guards refused to supply milk for the baby. The migrants drank rainwater or from puddles.

This was their third attempt. Whether they have since been successful is unclear.

But every morning we receive news on WhatsApp from people held in the border guards’ cells. Bulletins such as: “Yesterday a family and their sick son staying with us were taken by the police back to the border.” And: “We are so frightened of going to the border because my baby is too small. Please help us.”

Back home in the nearest town of Hajnówka, Wappa says: “We are creating a network, trying to do what we can, but it’s too much to bear. People are dying in the forest and the Polish state offers no help apart from bringing in more troops, rounding them up, and deporting them back to no man’s land. And if we reach those people, what can we give them? A flask of tea, some warm clothes, then leave them in the darkness and cold?”

In the forest last week, volunteers found Mustafa, a 46-year-old man from Morocco, taken in by a volunteer named Mila. Speaking Spanish, Mustafa told us: “As I made my way through the forest, I saw a man lying on the ground. I don’t know if he was alive or dead. I walked two nights until I could go no further. I was walking at night, trying to sleep during the day. I was in a vacuum.

“Belarusian soldiers beat people,” he continued. “They beat me in Belarus. There are gangs that stand behind the army and attack us. They beat you, take your money, and split it 50-50, part for the gangs, part for soldiers. This border is like a river of death. What are you to do? Where to go, I do not know.” Mustafa’s fate remains in the balance.

Once on the Polish side, migrants are tracked down by border guards, police, army, and territorial defence forces; in the Hajnówka region, practically every second car on the road belongs to law enforcement officers. Others have darkened windows – either protecting or smuggling the migrants.

“We’re in a parcelled-off, isolated world,” adds Kamil Syller, initiator of the Green Light project, which aims to put green lights in windows to signify homes where refugees can find help, discreetly, and not be handed over to the police.

At the Mantiuk Hospital in Hajnówka, a boy from Somalia tells how he watched his two brothers freeze to death. “It’s impossible to say where it happened,” he says.

“Apparently he’s losing contact with reality,” say the doctors. “He often asks: ‘But where am I?’” The refugees who reach the hospital receive professional medical care, yet the hospital is patrolled by border guards, and as soon as someone’s health is restored, guards take them back to the border and leave them in the forest.

Medics on the Border, a group of doctors with an ambulance, operates in the “open” areas, but are not allowed in the off-limits zone. Asked how they can be of help, they say: “We need passes to the zone,” says Jakub Sieczko, a paramedic. “But this is impossible.”Advertisement

“We have no access to the off-limits zone,” says a Polish Red Cross workerfrom the border area. “We can’t hand over aid packages ourselves.”

Syller says that the refugees are freezing, succumbing to hypothermia and shaking from fear and cold. “The children are having reactions similar to epileptic attacks. The suffering and terror here can only remind you of wartime,” he explains.

Wappa feels that she is “witnessing scenes like out of a war, but at least in a war things are clear. “This is worse, because here half the society denies what’s going on. They think it’s all a big sham, that there are politics behind it. People say of the refugees: ‘Why did they even leave home and why take their children?’”

This land is steeped in dark history of flight and deportation. And there are few reminders so cogent as in the village of Narewka, where a row of houses from before the second world war is adorned with enlarged photographs of the Jewish residents who lived here until the Holocaust.

The pictures show people posing in their finest clothes: an elderly couple, an Orthodox family, a girl in a polka-dot dress with bows in her hair, a sophisticated lady wearing a cap.

Now, past those houses in memoriam for Jews deported from here, military and police vehicles pass, carrying migrants for deportation.

END OF THE ARTICLE

[4]

PUSHBACKS ARE FORBIDDEN ACCORDING TO ARTICLE  19.EU CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
 Article 18 

Article 19 
Protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition 1. Collective expulsions are prohibited. 2. No one may be removed, expelled or extradited to a State where there is a serious risk that he or she would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  

EU CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/charter/pdf/text_en.pdf

”Polish pushback practices are also in violation of article 19 of the Charter and Protocol 4 of the ECHR, which both state unequivocally that collective or mass expulsions of aliens are prohibited”
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCHPOLISH LEGISLATION AND VIOLATIONOF EU LAW
A CHAPTER FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT”DIE HERE OR GO TO POLAND”BELARUS’ AND POLAND’S SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BORDER ABUSES
https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/11/24/die-here-or-go-poland/belarus-and-polands-shared-responsibility-border-abuses

[5]

THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT”DIE HERE OR GO TO POLAND”BELARUS’ AND POLAND’S SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BORDER ABUSES
https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/11/24/die-here-or-go-poland/belarus-and-polands-shared-responsibility-border-abuses

[6]

”On the outskirts of the Białowieża forest – which bestrides the border between south-east Poland and Belarus – a group of seven Iraqi Kurds make their weary way towards the Polish hamlet of Grodzisk.

The latest miles of their journey have been from Belarus – crossing back and forth twice, deported after their first and second attempts. Now a third time: through sub-zero temperatures, across the primeval forest’s marshy terrain. Among them are two children: an eight-month-old girl and a two-year-old boy.”THE GUARDIANON THE FROZEN FRONTIERS OF EUROPE WITHTHE MIGRANTS CAUGHT IN A LETHAL GAME

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT, NOTE 3

[7]

”This is one group among the thousands of migrants trapped in a perilous purgatorial terrain between Belarus and Poland, as gateway to the European Union, where they seek refuge and asylum. That gate has slammed shut, claiming eight known migrant lives so far.”

THE GUARDIANON THE FROZEN FRONTIERS OF EUROPE WITHTHE MIGRANTS CAUGHT IN A LETHAL GAME

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/07/on-the-frozen-frontiers-of-europe-with-the-migrants-caught-in-a-lethal-game

SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT, NOTE 3

”“At least 10 people, including a one-year-old child, have died at the EU’s Eastern borders in recent weeks. Today the European Commission is bringing in measures which undermine rights and normalize the dehumanization and suffering of people at the EU’s borders.”
AMNESTY INTERNATIONALEU ”EXCEPTIONAL MEASURES” NORMALIZE DEHUMANISATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS’1 DECEMBER 2021

In response to today’s proposals from the European Commission which would allow Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to derogate from EU rules, including by holding asylum-seekers and migrants at the border for 16 weeks with minimal safeguards, Eve Geddie, Director of Amnesty International’s European Office said:

“The arrival of people at the EU’s borders with Belarus is entirely manageable with the rules as they stand. Today’s proposals will further punish people for political gain, weaken asylum protections, and undermine the EU’s standing at home and abroad. If the EU can allow a minority of member states to throw out the rule book due to the presence of a few thousand people at its border, it throws out any authority it has on human rights and the rule of law.

“The current situation at the EU’s borders with Belarus is being used by some countries as an excuse to weaken protections of asylum-seekers and push their anti-migrant agenda. Holding asylum seekers in detention for four months, without the protection standards required by international law, is normalising de facto unlawful detention at the EU’s external borders.

“Asylum rules should be upheld, not allowed to be side-stepped by countries via so-called exceptional measures. Amnesty International is alarmed that the proposal will violate people’s rights, and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis at borders while continuing to expose the EU to further internal and external manipulation and blackmailing.

“While Lukashenka’s mistreatment and instrumentalization of migrants and asylum seekers is deplorable, he is exploiting the EU’s own tendency to treat people at their borders as a threat.

“At least 10 people, including a one-year-old child, have died at the EU’s Eastern borders in recent weeks. Today the European Commission is bringing in measures which undermine rights and normalize the dehumanization and suffering of people at the EU’s borders.”

END OF STATEMENT

POLAND-BELARUS REFUGEE CRISIS/LETTER TO THE EU/EU’S HUMAN OBLIGATIONS AGAINST THE REFUGEES

ASTRID ESSED

4 DECEMBER 2021

REFUGEES IN BORDERLAND/DECEMBER 2021

ASTRID ESSED

25 DECEMBER 2021

[8]THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT”DIE HERE OR GO TO POLAND”BELARUS’ AND POLAND’S SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BORDER ABUSES
https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/11/24/die-here-or-go-poland/belarus-and-polands-shared-responsibility-border-abuses

[9]
WIKIPEDIABIALOWIEZA FOREST

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bia%C5%82owie%C5%BCa_Forest

[10]
THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT”DIE HERE OR GO TO POLAND”BELARUS’ AND POLAND’S SHARED RESPONSIBILITY FOR BORDER ABUSES
https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/11/24/die-here-or-go-poland/belarus-and-polands-shared-responsibility-border-abuses

AMNESTY INTERNATIONALEU ”EXCEPTIONAL MEASURES” NORMALIZE DEHUMANISATION OF ASYLUM SEEKERS’1 DECEMBER 2021

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/12/eu-exceptional-measures-normalize-dehumanization-of-asylum-seekers/
SEE FOR THE WHOLE TEXT OF THE AMNESTY INTERNATIONALSTATEMENT, NOTE 7

END OF THE NOTES

Reacties uitgeschakeld voor Astrid Essed Attack on Budimex, contractor of the Poland-Belarus Wall in the war on migrants

Opgeslagen onder Divers

The Voice of Holland Scandal/Innocent until proven guilty/Astrid Essed’s remarks

Lege rechtszaal, met het oude houten met panelen bekleden

” Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

THE VOICE OF HOLLAND SCANDAL/INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY/ASTRID ESSED’S REMARKSREGARDING THE ”THE VOICE OF HOLLAND FOUR”[Ali B, Marco Borsato, Jeroen Rietbergen and the unknown Director]
” Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Article 11, UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

{See under the Astrid Essed’s comments, which were sent as a Letter to the Editor to a number of Dutch newspapers,  under the notes, some added articles]
Dear Readers
More then 7 million people, myself included, have recently watched onYoutube the documentary from the online program ”BOOS” THIS IS THE VOICE” [made by journalistand television presenter Tim Hofman [1]This BOOS edition delt with the Topic ”Sexual misconduct”Women and girls spoke out their accusations of sexual harassment [2] in allforms, ranging from sexual apps and remarks [and also the sending of Dicpics] [3] to sexual assault and rape, against topfigures of the RTL  the Voice of Holland programma, namely rapper and comedianAli B [who was a coach of Voice of Holland], singer and former Warchildambassador Marco Borsato [also coach in the Voice], bandleader Jeroen Rietbergen and an unknown director of the Voice, [4]Apart from the stories in online program Boos, charges have been pressedagainst the The Voice of Holland Four: Ali B, Marco Borsato, Jeroen Rietbergen and the anonymous Director.Against Marco Borsato already other charges of sexual misconduct had been pressed in december 2021 [5]
In a response on the program ”BOOS: This is the Voice”, Jeroen Rietbergen has admitted that he went too far sexually [6], MarcoBorsato has denied, Ali B has denied, as the anonymous Director.
Currently the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating the sexual assault allegations.
BOOS DOCUMENTARY: ”THIS IS THE VOICE”
The Boos Documentary ”This is the Voice”, is very touching, confronting.And it was with right that people were angry and showed indignation.

YET! I WANT TO ISSUE AN URGENT WARNING IN THIS ”THE VOICE OFHOLLAND” SCANDAL:
Because the danger is [and I saw it in the reaction of many known and famousDutch TV personalities], that the public opinion is going too far and acts, writesand talks, as if the allegations of sexual misconduct are no allegations anymore,but proven facts!Without waiting for the outcoming of the investigation of the Prpsecutor’s Office, let alone a possible trial against the The Voice of Holland Four [or possibly more people]
ALLEGATIONS/ALLEGATIONS!
Because what we know until now?There are a number of allegations, uttered by REAL ORALLEGED VICTIMS [The silly newsmedia already speak of ”real victims”],there are no hard evidence yet [which has to be decided by the judge!]
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY!
That’s why I tell to the public not to forget that we are living in a Society with judges, with Courts and above all the principle:”Innocent until proven guilty” [7], which is established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [8], International Treaties [9], EuropeanTreaties, the Dutch and International Law!
And let’s face this Uneasy Truth:False statements exist, especially when it concernsthe High and Mighty.
Therefore its is of the greatest importance, that the allegation-casesare in the hands of the Prosecutor’s Office now, where a just, judicialdecision can be made.Prosecute or not.
The real or alleged victims have a right to it, as the accusedand maybe suspects.In case of a witch hunt, there are no winners.

ASTRID ESSED
NOTES

NOTES

[1]

WIKIPEDIATIM HOFMAN
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Hofman

YOUTUBE.COMBOOS: THIS IS THE VOICE[IN DUTCH]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1idPrF17UP0

[2]
WIKIPEDIASEXUAL HARASSMENT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment

[3]

URBAN DICTIONARY DICPIC
https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dicpic

dicpic

a picture of a dick that a guy sends you (usually its his dick)
dick + pic = dicpicheyylook at this dicpic i just got on facebook!by sluttyhoe January 01, 2009

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dicpic

[4]

ONLINE BOOS PROGRAM
YOUTUBE.COM[IN DUTCH]BOOS: THIS IS THE VOICE

WIKIPEDIAALI B

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_B

WIKIPEDIAMARCO BORSATO

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Borsato

WIKIPEDIAJEROEN RIETBERGEN[In Dutch]
https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeroen_Rietbergen

[5]

”On 13 December 2021, a 22-year-old Dutch woman filed charges against Borsato with the police, accusing Borsato of grooming and sexually assaulting her for years beginning when she was 15 by touching her genitals, buttocks and breasts against her will.[30] The victim considered Borsato, who was a family friend, to be a father figure after her own father died. In the following days, two more women accused Borsato of sexual abuse”

WIKIPEDIAMARCO BORSATO/SEXUAL ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Borsato#Sexual_assault_allegations

ORIGINAL SOURCE
WIKIPEDIAMARCO BORSATO
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marco_Borsato

[6]

”Soon after RTL’s announcement, band leader of The Voice of Holland, Jeroen Rietbergen (brother in law of media tycoon and creator John de Mol), issued a statement admitting to years of sexual misbehaviour. ”
WIKIPEDIA/THE VOICE OF HOLLAND/SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CLAIMS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voice_of_Holland#Sexual_misconduct_claims

ORIGINAL SOURCE
WIKIPEDIATHE VOICE OF HOLLAND

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Voice_of_Holland

[7]

” Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”
ARTICLE 11, UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS 

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

WIKIPEDIAPRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presumption_of_innocence

[8]

UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b1udhr.htm

[9]
2. Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall have the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

ARTICLE 14, 2, INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON CIVIL ANDPOLITICAL RIGHTS
http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/instree/b3ccpr.htm

ADDED ARTICLES

NL TIMES
THE VOICE OF HOLLAND SUSPENDED AS SEXUAL AND POWERABUSE ALLEGATIONS SURFACE15 JANUARY 2022
https://nltimes.nl/2022/01/15/voice-holland-suspended-sexual-power-abuse-allegations-surface

RTL temporarily canceled the television show the Voice of Holland due to allegations of sexually transgressive behavior and abuse of power by personnel connected to the show. Shortly after the announcement Saturday morning, it was revealed that composer and keyboardist Jeroen Rietbergen would leave the program with immediate effect. The Public Prosecution Service also confirmed that a criminal complaint connected to a person on the show was filed this week.

The editorial team of the BNNVARA program BOOS informed RTL on Wednesday of the incidents RTL said that The Voice of Holland will not air while the allegations are being investigated. “The allegations are very serious and shocking and were not known to RTL,” the broadcaster stated in a press release.-ADVERTENTIE-

“This Saturday, the editors received a confession and apology from the band leader of The Voice, Jeroen Rietbergen. He announced that he will stop his work at The Voice immediately,” BNNVARA wrote in its own press release. “The Voice of Holland has stated that it was not aware of these abuses and has decided to conduct an independent investigation.”

Dutch singer Marco Borsato was also the subject of allegations about sexually transgressive behavior late last year. Borsato was also a coach on The Voice of Holland from 2011-2015. Rietbergen worked with Borsato for several years over the past two decades. Rietbergen was also previously in a relationship with Linda de Mol, the sister of The Voice creator John de Mol

The television show which uncovered the claims, BOOS, said that the episode detailing their investigation will air next week. “We put a huge amount of time and effort into the program. Our show about The Voice of Holland will be broadcast coming Thursday,” said BOOS program director Tim Hofman on Twitter.

Hofman began his investigation into power and sexual abuse claims in talent scouting shows in August. During his research, Hofman received information from people who said they experienced sexually transgressive behavior while on The Voice of Holland.

Television producer ITV reacted to the allegations stating, “Our highest priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who participates and works on our shows. ITV Studios has a zero-tolerance policy towards the kind of behavior that is said to have taken place. We have immediately ordered an outside investigation.”

END OF THE ARTICLE

CNN

DUTCH VERSION OF ”THE VOICE” PULLED OFF AIR AMID

SEXUAL

MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS

18 JANUARY 2022

https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/18/entertainment/the-voice-holland-sexual-misconduct-intl-scli/index.html

The Dutch version of “The Voice” has been suspended pending an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations surrounding the popular talent series.Dutch broadcasting company RTL said it will stop airing the show while it carries out an investigation with producers ITV into allegations of “sexually inappropriate behavior” and “abuse of power,” according to a statement released by RTL over the weekend.Among those facing accusations is “The Voice” bandleader Jeroen Rietbergen, who has resigned from his post and issued an apology.

RTL, an affiliate of CNN, said it was notified of the allegations at “The Voice of Holland” on January 12 by the Dutch TV news program BOOS. RTL said it was previously unaware of misconduct allegations.

“We take this extremely seriously. Participants, colleagues, everyone must be able to work in complete safety. There is no room for interpretation in that. The priority is now to get the facts on the table,” Saturday’s statement added.BOOS said in a statement that it received stories in spring 2021 about sexually inappropriate behavior at “The Voice of Holland.”BOOS show host Tim Hofman subsequently issued an open call, where he asked if there were other people who had experienced “something inappropriate at talent shows.””Numerous reactions followed from people who said they were victim or witness to abuse of power or sexually inappropriate behavior at ‘The Voice,'” the BOOS statement said.Those accused of misconduct were approached by BOOS, the show said. One of these was Rietbergen.In a statement reported by RTL, Rietbergen said: “During my years-long involvement with ‘The Voice of Holland’ I had contact of a sexual nature with some women involved in the program and exchanged sexually colored WhatsApp messages.”My involvement with ‘The Voice of Holland’ was as a pianist and bandleader. In my opinion there was no position of power at the time, in my position I am not in a position to favor anyone on the program, I am solely concerned with the music. I saw the contacts as reciprocal and equal.”Rietbergen added: “In the intervening time I have become very aware that my own perception is not relevant at all, but much more the perception of the women concerned. And that these women may have experienced this very differently. This insight has made me realize that my behavior was completely wrong. The things that I have done I should never have done.”Rietbergen, who said he has had professional help, said he has “drastically and permanently” changed his behavior. He said that he will immediately stop working for the series.”I am more sorry for everything than I can express in this statement,” Rietbergen added.BOOS added that the allegations concern Rietbergen, as well as “multiple people within the program.”ITV Studios said in a statement to CNN Tuesday: “Our utmost priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who takes part in or works on our shows and there is zero tolerance at ITV Studios for the type of behaviour alleged to have taken place.”On Monday, Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius urged anyone who has been a victim of sexual intimidation or violence to file a report so the police and Public Prosecution Service can start an investigation. The Public Prosecution Service is responsible for investigating and prosecuting criminal offenses.The Dutch reality singing contest sparked the original format of the show in 2010, where judges sit with their chairs facing away from the stage, so that they initially cannot see prospective candidates.If the judges like the sound of a candidate’s voice, they must press their button, which spins their chair towards the stage to reveal the contestant behind the blind audition.

The series has since been iterated in countries including the UK, the US and Australia, where previous coaches include global artists such as will.i.am, Kylie Minogue, Ariana Grande and John Legend.A program about sexual misconduct at “The Voice of Holland” is scheduled to air on Thursday, BOOS added.

END OF THE ARTICLE

THE GUARDIAN

DUTCH CREATOR OF THE VOICE ACCUSED OF VICTIM-BLAMING

OVER ABUSE CLAIMS ON SHOW

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/21/dutch-creator-of-the-voice-john-de-mol-accused-of-victim-blaming-over-sex-abuse-allegations-on-show

The creator of reality TV shows including The Voice and Big Brother has been accused of victim-blaming by his company’s female employees after accusations of widespread sexual abuse of contestants on the original Dutch version of The Voice.

In a full-page advert in the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad, a group of employees at the production company Talpa Media castigated its founder, John De Mol, for suggesting that women as well as men had lessons to learn from a scandal that has gripped the country this week and prompted the broadcaster RTL to take Friday’s episode of The Voice of Holland off air.

Following a deluge of allegations of abuse made against men on the show, De Mol, 66, said in an interview: “Do not wait. Do not be afraid. You have to open your mouth. Only then can we help you … Women apparently have a kind of shame, I don’t know what it is, but I would like to delve into it.”

In response, an advert was published in Friday’s newspaper that said: “Dear John, it’s not the women. Greetings, the women of your company.”

In an accompanying statement the group of employees wrote of their “amazement and shame” at De Mol’s comments. It “says a lot about a culture change that is needed within the company, but also in the media world and society,” the statement continued. “And certainly at more large companies where these kinds of thinking errors are still made by men in power.

“Women’s behaviour is not the problem. And not the solution either. This statement is of course also for all other victims of sexually transgressive behaviour in the workplace (not just at Talpa), to encourage them.”

On Friday night, De Mol said he had been “moved” by the advert and had spoken to the women behind it to “understand this anger and disappointment”. He added: “I now understand that, contrary to my good intentions, I have failed to take into account the fact that I, completely unintentionally, gave the impression that I was putting the blame on women. It has become clear to me now that women will not come forward if the culture in a company is not perceived as being sufficiently safe. I blame myself for the fact that this is apparently the case in my company, and I am 100% committed to changing this.”

Talpa Media is run by De Mol but has been owned by ITV since 2015.

The Voice of Holland was suspended before Thursday’s broadcast of a documentary on the YouTube channel Boos, which translates as “angry”, and is run by the public broadcasting company BNNVARA. In the documentary, dozens of anonymous women alleged that high-profile men on The Voice had sexually harassed, abused and assaulted them.

A spokesperson for ITV Studios said the company was “shocked and dismayed” by the allegations but declined to comment on De Mol’s interview. She said: “Our utmost priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who takes part in or works on our shows and there is zero tolerance at ITV Studios for the type of behaviour highlighted in the show.

“After ITV Studios received notice from Boos of this behaviour last week we moved quickly to launch an external investigation to fully understand what happened.”

Netherlands authorities, including the justice minister, subsequently urged anyone who had been a victim of sexual abuses on the programme to file a complaint with the police so that they and the Public Prosecution Service could investigate

The rapper Ali Bouali, 40, a coach on the show who goes by the name Ali B, was accused by one former contestant of raping her when she appeared on the programme as an 18-year-old hopeful.

In a statement, he responded: “There are now two anonymous reports that are presented with a lot of fury as news. That is unjustified. I cannot publicly defend myself against this. Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the Public Prosecution Service will in both cases have to decide to dismiss [the allegations]. I am not guilty of what I am accused of in the claims.”

Before the broadcast of the allegations, Jeroen Rietbergen, 50, the show’s bandleader, stood down after admitting to having had “sexual contact” with women on the show and sending sexually oriented messages on an app. Rietbergen, until recently the partner of De Mol’s sister, the TV presenter Linda de Mol, said he was not aware of wrongdoing at the time of the alleged incidents.

Six other women have made complaints about the singer Marco Borsato, three of them contestants on The Voice and three on The Voice Kids. Borasto denies any wrongdoing.

De Mol, who initially made his fortune through development of the reality television series Big Brother, spoke of his disappointment that the HR procedures in his company had not protected the contestants.

ITV bought Talpa Media seven years ago for £355m, with further payments dependent on future performance, up to a total potential cost of £920,000.

The company has created 75 shows in more than 180 countries. The Voice format, in which singers are selected via public auditions and then coached by professionals before a competition for a recording contract, has been aired in 50 countries.

Anouk Teeuwe, a female singer who represented the Netherlands at the Eurovision song contest in 2013, said she had quit as a coach on the programme.

“The news is so saddening and a major disappointment,” she said. “I know enough. I’ve decided I don’t want to return to The Voice. It’s a corrupt mess. I don’t want to work at a place where men have, for years, abused their positions and where others have chosen to keep the misconduct silent and look the other way.

“You just can’t do that. You’ve got structural issues when you do that. I do not wish to be part of such behaviour, that’s just not me. So therefore, I will not return to The Voice of Holland.”

END OF THE ARTICLE

BBC

THE VOICE: DUTCH TV SUSPENDS SHOW OVER SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CLAIMS

17 JANUARY 2022

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-60022641

The Voice of Holland, which originated 150 global versions of the hit talent TV show, has been pulled off air amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The singing show is suspended while the allegations are being investigated, said the news website for Dutch broadcaster RTL, which produces it.

Jeroen Rietbergen, the series’ band leader, resigned on Saturday, admitting to “relationships of a sexual nature” with women involved in the programme.

ITV Studios owns the show’s rights.

In 2015 it bought the rights to the Dutch version of The Voice, created in 2010 by John de Mol and Roel van Velzen.

Its global versions include the US show broadcast on NBC, which has been awarded seven Emmys and 69 nominations.

The UK version was previously broadcast on the BBC for five series, before it moved to ITV.

The show sees the singing coaches do initial “blind auditions” with singing hopefuls, who have to perform while the judges’ backs are turned, so they are assessed only on their vocal merits.

ITV Studios told the BBC they are “shocked” by the allegations about the Dutch show, which started its 12th series in early January.

“Our utmost priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who takes part in or works on our shows and there is zero tolerance at ITV Studios for the type of behaviour alleged to have taken place,” they said.

“We have immediately commissioned an external investigation into the allegations.”

RTL told the BBC the “very serious and shocking” allegations “were not known to RTL”.

They said they were told about the “allegations of sexually transgressive behaviour and abuse of power in relation to The Voice of Holland” on 12 January by by news programme Boos, broadcast on Dutch public broadcaster BNN/VARA, which had been conducting an investigation.

Alleged misconduct

RTL added that a “mutual agreement” was reached with ITV about it conducting a “diligent, independent investigation” into the allegations.

“We take this very seriously. Everyone, including both participants and employees, must be able to work in complete safety. There is no room for interpretation here. The priority now is to get the facts straight,” they said.

The BBC has asked RTL for comment from Rietbergen.

The Hollywood Reporter said it was “not clear whether the alleged misconduct at The Voice of Holland took place before or after the ITV takeover”.

RTL suggested there is “talk of abuse of power and sexually transgressive behaviour of three employees”, including “a complaint against jury member Ali B” but that his management said: “Ali has never abused his position and has never acted” in a sexually transgressive way.”

Dutch rapper Ali B posted on Instagram he is “100% convinced” of his own innocence and his management said they currently had nothing to add to his words on social media.

Pre-recorded shows held back

Rietbergen said in a statement he had some years ago had “contact of a sexual nature” with women involved in the programme, and that he had exchanged sexually explicit messages” with them.

He added he did not feel he was abusing his position of powerbut has “now become very aware that my own perception is not relevant at all, but much more the perception of the women concerned. And that these women may have experienced this very differently”.

The identity of the third employee has not been made public.

The Hollywood Reporter said Rietbergen has been in a romantic relationship for more than a decade with Dutch TV star Linda de Mol, who is the sister of one of the show’s creators. but that she declined to comment.

Reitbergen said he has been very aware for “a number of years” that he made a mistake, and that he has received professional help for his behaviour, according to RTL.

ITV Studios told Hollywood Reporter they were contacted “this week” by Boos with the allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” associated with the show.

RTL said the show runs for 15 episodes and that 12 have been recorded, with two broadcast. The last three would have been broadcast live.

END OF THE ARTICLE

DUTCHNEWS.NL

THE VOICE SCANDAL DEEPENS AS DOZENS OF WOMEN DETAIL 

ABUSE, HARASSMENT

20 JANUARY 2022

A YouTube documentary about sexual intimidation and abuse surrounding The Voice of Holland talent show has detailed a long list of claims about sexual abuse, inappropriate comments and behaviour and even one instance of rape. The long-awaited programme, broadcast on Thursday afternoon, involved statements from dozens of anonymous women who were contestants on the show. One former contestant accused rapper and show coach Ali B of raping her eight years ago, when she appeared on the show as an 18-year-old. The woman told her story in a disguised voice, saying she ‘froze’ during the attack and that it had taken her years to realise she was not to blame. Two women have so far made police complaints about B, who denies all the allegations. The programme included other anonymous women who spoke about B promising them fame and then trying to kiss and touch them at his home or in the dressing room –  a pattern repeated by other men involved in the show. Off air RTL took the talent hunt off air last weekend when band leader Jeroen Rietbergen went public with a confession, before the allegations were broadcast. Rietbergen is alleged to have made continuous sexualised comments during rehearsals, sent women photos of his sexual organ and in one case, had physical contact. The complaints about Rietbergen cover a period of over ten years, from 2010 and involve at least 19 women. De Mol The show also made it clear that John de Mol, who devised the programme and owned broadcasting company Talpa until it was taken over by ITV in 2019, was aware of at least one case of unacceptable sexual behaviour by Rietbergen in April 2019. De Mol told the programme he had summoned Rietbergen and given him a serious talking too, but also gave him a second chance. De Mol said he was not aware that Rietbergen had also sexually intimidated other women. Rietbergen was at the time in a relationship with De Mol’s sister, television presenter Linda. The couple separated after the scandal broke and Linda de Mol said before the broadcast that her heart ‘wept for all the women who have suffered’. Six women made complaints about singer Marco Borsato, three from contestants on The Voice and three on The Voice Kids. A spokesman for Borsato, who was faced with allegations about his behaviour at the end of the last year, said he would not be commenting on the claims. Director A further 15 women made complaints about one of the show’s directors who was not named by the programme makers. He was accused of making inappropriate comments and touching the contestants and told the programme via his lawyer that he denied all the accusations. Since the storm broke, judge and coach Anouk has also quit the line-up, and the main sponsors have dumped the programme. RTL has also pulled The Voice Kids and The Voice Senior. The Voice format has been bought by broadcasters in over 50 countries world wide, since its inception in 2010.

END OF THE ARTICLE

NL TIMESMORE CALLS TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE HOTLINE AFTER THEVOICE SCANDAL25 JANUARY 2022
https://nltimes.nl/2022/01/25/calls-sexual-violence-hotline-voice-scandal

A week and a half after the first revelations of sexually transgressive behavior at the talent show The Voice of Holland, the Center for Sexual Violence (CSG) is still receiving more calls and chats than usual. Most people report experiencing sexual violence a long time ago. 

Wher the CSG usually conducts about 12 to 13 chat conversations a day, on the day that BNN/VARA program BOOS put the episode about The Voice online on Thursday, there were 341 chat conversations. On Friday, the center had 286 chat conversations. “The chats just keep coming,” said CSG head Iva Bicanic. “Where we normally have two emergency workers on the cats at night, we were still short of hands during the peak with 12 emergency workers.”-ADVERTENTIE-

The number of chats decreased over the weekend but remained above average. On Monday, CSG workers held a total of 131 conversations. 

There are also more calls coming in than usual. On the day of the BOOS broadcast, the center received 92 calls – over four times as many as the same day a year ago. On Friday, there were 232 calls. Over the weekend, the number of calls dropped to about 70 a day. On Monday, the phone rang 101 times. 

The reporting on the alleged abuse on The Voice of Holland has had an enormously triggering effect,” said Bicanic. “It triggered something for many victims of sexual violence. There was no escaping it; the whole of the Netherlands was talking about sexual violence, wherever you looked or listened. For many victims, this caused hidden memories to surface, and thus the suffering pressure increased.”

The reports came, for example, from people who were struggling with re-experiences, sleeping-, and concentration problems. Others called because they felt empowered to seek help after hearing stories in the media. People also called who realized that they themselves had been a victim after all the attention to the subject.

Last week, the CSG called in a “Letter to the Netherlands” to prevent victim-blaming. According to the center, 75 percent of victims of sexual violence face accusatory comments and inappropriate questions. 

The organization Victim Support also reported that chat conversations tripled last week.

BOOS maker Tim Hofman also notices the first results of his episode on The Voice of Holland. “Something seems to be moving,” the presenter wrote on Instagram. “We see companies, universities, associations, and other institutes adjusting their policies to create a safer environment. A Cabinet (including Prime Minister) speaks out. Men talk to each other, women share with each other,” said Hofman. This is a “valuable” development, but “we are not there yet,” he added. “It feels like the first big breath of a new wind.”

The presenter also thanked all the people who told their stories about the abuses behind the scenes at The Voice in the broadcast. Dozens of women spoke out about sexually transgressive behavior on the RTL program. This included accusations against band leader Jeroen Rietbergen and coaches Marco Borsato and Ali B.

Reporting by ANP.

END OF THE ARTICLE

ABC NEWS”THE VOICE OF HOLLAND” TALENT SHOW HIT BY # ME TOO SCANDAL19 JANUARY 2022
https://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/voice-holland-talent-show-hit-metoo-scandal-82344442

Dutch talent show “The Voice of Holland” has been taken off air in the Netherlands amid a sexual misconduct scandal

AMSTERDAM — The Dutch talent show “The Voice of Holland” has been taken off the air in the Netherlands amid a sexual misconduct scandal that has cast a shadow over the future of the TV ratings juggernaut in the country where it was first conceived by a media mogul.

The furor is one of the most serious #MeToo reckonings yet to hit the Dutch entertainment world and focuses on a show created in the Netherlands but broadcast in local versions around the globe.

It also draws in a family considered television royalty in the Netherlands — the original creator John de Mol and his sister Linda, a television star in her own right in the Netherlands and Germany who last weekend split from “The Voice of Holland’s” pianist and band leader after he admitted having sexual contacts with some contestants.

The Dutch scandal erupted after a local broadcaster’s YouTube show called “BOOS” — the Dutch word for angry — contacted “The Voice of Holland” to say it has spoken to victims of “sexually transgressive behavior” on the show and is planning to broadcast a program about their allegations on Thursday.

Prosecutors have received two complaints in recent days against one of the show’s panelists, Dutch rapper Ali Bouali. His lawyer, Bart Swier, said Wednesday that the artist known as Ali B denies any wrongdoing. Swier declined to comment further.

The complaints, which Swier said were filed Jan. 11 and on Tuesday, will trigger investigations to establish whether Ali B should face any criminal charges.

Even Prime Minister Mark Rutte has weighed in on the scandal swirling around one of the Netherlands’ most popular TV shows.

“I think everybody is very shocked and it’s good that it is investigated,” he told the Dutch daily De Telegraaf.

Dutch broadcaster RTL, which airs “The Voice of Holland,” reacted swiftly to the reports, saying over the weekend that it was suspending the show. It called the allegations “very serious and shocking” and said they weren’t known to RTL.

Dutch media reported Wednesday that RTL had suspended its ties with Ali B as a result of the complaints. The network did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The show’s pianist and band leader, Jeroen Rietbergen, quit over the weekend and issued a statement acknowledging his actions.

“During my years of involvement with “The Voice of Holland,” I had contact of a sexual nature with some women involved in the program and exchanged sexually tinted WhatsApp messages,” he said in a statement to the RTL Boulevard entertainment news show.

Rietbergen went on to say that after initially considering the sexual encounters “as reciprocal and equal,” he later came to understand that the women “may have experienced this very differently. This insight has made me realize that my behavior has been completely wrong.”

His statement also suggested the show’s producers had known about his actions and cautioned him in the past. Rietbergen’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a call and email seeking comment.

Rietbergen’s partner, Linda de Mol, said in a statement on her website that she split from Rietbergen after the scandal broke and was taking a break from her own television career.

RTL said it contacted the show’s producer ITV Studios, which agreed to “immediately initiate a diligent, independent investigation.” The Dutch broadcaster said that “Participants, employees, everyone must be able to work in complete safety. There is no room for interpretation in this. The priority now is to get the facts on the table.”

ITV Studios said: “Our highest priority is to provide a safe and supportive environment for everyone who participates in — or works on — our shows and ITV Studios has a zero-tolerance policy towards the type of behavior it is said to have taken place.”

The company said its investigation aims to “build a complete picture of what happened” and encouraged victims or witnesses to speak to the investigation.

Dutch singer Anouk said she was quitting as one of the show’s panelists, who first get to know contestants by listening to them “blind” from a swiveling chair facing away from the stage before going on to mentor them.

“I don’t want to work in a place where for years a number of men have abused their position and deliberately chose to keep it quiet and look the other way,” she said in an Instagram video.

The Dutch public broadcast organization NPO also took action as a result of the scandal, sending a letter to public networks urging them to make sure they have sufficient checks for misconduct.

“We treat everyone equally and respectfully,” the organization said Tuesday in a letter to the broadcasters. “Attention is paid to unequal power relationships and dependency relationships, where there may be an increased risk of undesirable transgressive behavior.”

END OF THE ARTICLE

Reacties uitgeschakeld voor The Voice of Holland Scandal/Innocent until proven guilty/Astrid Essed’s remarks

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