The Sentinel-Record

Church seeks aid for migrants


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s influentia­l Catholic Church appealed Monday for humanitari­an assistance for migrants from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere who have been seeking to reach Europe by crossing from Belarus into Poland.

Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki, the president of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, called for permission to launch humanitari­an corridors in order to control the relocation of refugees and put an end to a chaotic migration happening “at the hands of gangs of smugglers.”

Church authoritie­s have been largely aligned with Poland’s conservati­ve government, and the statement appeared to be an unusual reproach of how the state authoritie­s have been handling the migration crisis.

Poland has responded to the large-scale migration with a tough approach, refusing to let migrants apply for asylum and pushing some back across the border into Belarus. Those policies violate internatio­nal law, but the Polish government argues that it must protect the nation’s borders and security in the face of a “hybrid-war” attack from Belarus.

People have been getting trapped at the border, suffering from thirst, hunger and exhaustion. There are reports of several deaths from exposure.

“The right and duty to defend the state borders can be reconciled with bringing help to people who find themselves in dramatic situations,” Gadecki wrote in his appeal.

Poland’s right-wing government accuses Belarus of facilitati­ng the large-scale migration into Poland to create instabilit­y in the European Union. Poland and other EU countries — particular­ly Lithuania and Latvia, which also border Belarus and have seen migrants enter their countries — believe it is revenge for EU sanctions against the government of authoritar­ian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Top government officials have portrayed some of the migrants as dangerous criminals, terrorists or people with sexual perversion­s. Meanwhile, those Poles who criticize the government’s approach have been accused of siding with Lukashenko against their own nation.

Gadecki said the authoritie­s have the duty to detect potential threats from people crossing the country’s borders but that they shouldn’t stigmatize newcomers by making harmful generaliza­tions.

He recalled the Christian duty to help migrants and refugees.

He also expressed his gratitude for the help given to Afghans who were evacuated by the Polish authoritie­s as the Taliban seized control of Kabul.

 ?? ?? Polish police officers stop vehicles last week in Krynki, Poland, an area along the border with Belarus.
(AP/Czarek Sokolowski)
Polish police officers stop vehicles last week in Krynki, Poland, an area along the border with Belarus. (AP/Czarek Sokolowski)

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