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Centre of Migration Research

Humanitarian crisis at the Polish-Belarusian frontier – Old and new diagnoses from external EU borders


CMR WEBINAR, December 16-17, 2021, 15:00 – 16:30 (CET)

Conveners: Kamila Fiałkowska, Karolina Łukasiewicz, Agnieszka Radziwinowiczówna
Centre of Migration Research (CMR), University of Warsaw

Since the summer of 2021 the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border has been in the spotlight of the local, EU and international observers, politicians, activists, journalists and researchers. Polish regulations prohibit the presence of media and activists in the border zone. The death toll of this crisis increases with the use of pushbacks by state authorities and freezing temperatures in the primordial Polish forest. The situation in Poland reminds of crises on the Southern borders of the EU, where pushbacks are in use and the term hybrid war has been applied to justify border militarisation and criminalisation of people seeking international protection. At the same time, the situation in Poland contrasts with Germany’s response to the 2016 crisis and the current situation when asylum cases have been lawfully processed.

This two-part webinar aims to discuss the ongoing border crisis on the Polish-Belarussian frontier and reflect on lessons learnt from other EU crises, including at the Greek-Turkish border, the Balkan route and in 2016 Germany. This will improve our understanding of the tools used to manage the past and present humanitarian crises by the EU and state actors. Building on the perspective of Greece and Balkan countries (pushbacks, reception of asylum seekers), Turkey (transit country, reception), and Germany (reception context), the panellists will explain how various tools operate on the ground and what can we learn from them to manage the ongoing and forthcoming crises.

PART I: 16 December 2021, 15:00 – 16:30 (CET)
Polish, Greek and the Balkan border crises – pushbacks policy and human rights violations
Click here to register and get the link to the Part I of the Webinar

The roundtable gathers five excellent speakers with first-hand experience of documenting human rights violations on the external borders of the European Union. Witold Klaus and Marta Górczyńska from The  Border Group will talk about the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. The roundtable will serve to exchange the experience with researchers documenting border violence on the Greek – Turkey border and along the Balkan route: Evgenia Kouniaki and Eleni Takou from Human Rights 360 and Chloe Powers from Border Violence Monitoring Network.  During this roundtable some of the most important findings of two recently-published reports will be discussed: Humanitarian Crisis on the Polish-Belarusian Border by the Border Group and The doctrine of the ‘instrumentalization’ of refugees. The borders of Evros in the era of the securitization of borders by ΗumanRights360.

PART II: 17 December 2021, 15:00 – 16:30 (CET)
Migration governance on the ground. Lessons learned from the past and ongoing crises.
Click here to register and get the link to the Part II of the Webinar

This roundtable gathers excellent scholars: Sabine Hess, Electra Petracou, Ela Gökalp Aras and Karolina Sobczak-Szelc who will discuss lessons learned from the past and present experience with migration governance in Germany, Greece, Turkey and Poland. The speakers will talk about responding to a border crisis on the Greek-Turkish border, and about asylum reception in Germany and Poland. They will also discuss the future of refugee protection mechanisms at the EU border and how to ensure humanitarian treatment of asylum seekers.