International Federation of Social Workers: Statement on the refugee crisis at the Belarus-Polish border

On the Polish-Belarusian border, human rights are violated, as well as conventions signed by the Polish government, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The Polish and Belarus governments and public administrations are not only pushing refugees into the border forests, but what is worse is that the Polish authorities are prohibiting the provision of humanitarian assistance to voluntary and civil organizations that are willing to help the victims of this humanitarian crisis. This action, among others organized by the current government, is intended to kill the civic spirit and a sense of solidarity with the persecuted refugees defined as cultural “others”. As representatives of social workers organisations, we believe that true solidarity between people will prevail over short-sighted and destructive policies. As social workers, we oppose the inhuman treatment of refugees and condemn them to death from exhaustion and cold. We oppose the barbaric actions of the Polish and Belarusian apparatus of state violence.

We believe that international solidarity is necessary to change the policy formulated by the conservative forces in the European Union, based on anti-refugee resentment. In this situation, we believe that only grassroots, broad-based action can improve a lot of those at the border and counteract the xenophobic tendencies of society.

We, therefore, call on individuals, organizations and institutions associated with social work institutions and social workers:

  • To take unambiguous positions in the public debate based on scientific knowledge and the recognition of human life and human dignity as supreme values
  • To exercise civil action aimed at direct assistance to people in need to meet their essential needs (sleep, food, drink, medicine, warmth, psychological and legal support), justifying it by the necessity of saving human health and life
  • Express solidarity with those crossing the border and support in person, in-kind, or financially any direct assistance provided by representatives of social organizations, the medical professions, the media, and independent activists
  • To openly express opposition to the actions of the authorities which violate human rights, among others, by organizing protest actions
  • To cooperate in carrying out these activities and to undertake joint initiatives aimed at stopping human rights violations and counteracting xenophobia

Full article.