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The EU wants to change the asylum rules for border countries

The crisis has continued in the border areas between Poland, Lithuania and Belarus mainly since last summer. Thousands of migrants, mostly from Iraq and other countries in the Middle East, traveled to Belarus and then arrived on their own or with the help of the Belarusian authorities at the borders with EU countries Poland and Lithuania in order to seek asylum in the EU.

The EU accuses Belarus of organizing trips and deceiving migrants, calling the whole thing a “hybrid attack” on the EU.

On Wednesday, the European Commission presented its proposal which means Poland, Latvia and Lithuania will be exempted from parts of EU asylum law rules for a period of six months. The proposal is expected to be approved soon, after the majority of member states approve it.

Even if the situation at the border deteriorates, we must continue to be vigilant. I don’t think for a moment that we can trust the Belarusian system, says Elva Johansson at a press conference about the proposal.

“More flexible”

In practical terms, the proposal means that a person coming to the three EU countries from Belarus could be detained in so-called asylum preparation centers for up to four months pending a decision, although this does not necessarily mean, according to the UNHCR, that the asylum seeker in these meantime. This is three months longer than is allowed today.

She described the measures in a press release issued by the Commission as “exceptional and exceptional”.

– This gives countries more time to deal with the registration of asylum seekers, says Elva Johansson.

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If migrants do not want to seek asylum in the countries concerned, Johansson says, “they may go back to their home country.”

You cannot choose where in the European Union you want to seek asylum.

According to the proposal, it would be easier to return people to their countries of origin, but forcing migrants to return across the border to Belarus, the so-called “pullbacks”, would remain illegal.

However, countries still have certain obligations towards migrants, and they must, among other things, ensure a roof over their heads, food, clothing and medical care if necessary. At the same time, the Committee emphasizes that immigrants should have the right to legal aid and to have a judge present when applying for asylum. According to the proposal, this will be done within four weeks, compared to the current rules that require a request for asylum within a maximum of ten days.

extends the state of emergency

Late Tuesday, Poland simultaneously extended a controversial state of emergency at the border.

This means that the Home Office can continue to prevent everyone who does not live in the area – including journalists and aid organizations – from staying in the border area, where thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have been denied entry. European Union.

Polish opposition and human rights organizations believe that the state of emergency gives the ministry too much power.