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25-May-2016 07:20

Yet since early last summer, the Polish Ombudsman and rights groups including the Helsinki Committee and Human Rights Watch have documented Polish border guards arbitrarily refusing entry to asylum seekers, after interviews that last just a couple of minutes, lack privacy and in which interviewers ask leading questions to portray them as economic migrants."The application for protection on the territory of Poland is accepted from any foreigner who clearly states the will to submit such a request," a Polish Border Guard spokeswoman said in response to Refugees Deeply's question about the Ombudsman's report."These asylum seekers, mostly from the Russian Republic of Chechnya but also from Tajikistan and Georgia, are collectively returned to Belarus, where they cannot receive effective protection and risk being returned to Russia or Tajikistan," she said.Another MEP, Ska Keller, said European leaders may be reluctant to admit something is wrong at the Poland-Belarus border and deal with a "completely new problem." Europe is saturated with disputes about the violation of refugee rights – from Bulgaria rejecting asylum seekers at the border with Turkey, to Hungary's legalization of pushbacks and mandatory detention of refugees.Yet, closing the eastern border simply means fewer refugees coming into countries struggling with the political aftermath of the wave of refugee arrivals in 2015.That is particularly the case in Germany, which took in by far the most asylum seekers that year and has been the main destination for Chechens entering the EU via Poland.

Hundreds of citizens of Russia, Tajikistan, and Georgia have been stranded in the western Belarusian city of Brest as they attempt daily crossings by train to the Polish city of Terespol in the EU, a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report maintains.

Back in Belarus Those rejected at Poland's border face grim prospects in Belarus, a country tightly controlled by strongman Alexander Lukashenko.