The European Court of Human Rights asked the Polish and Latvian governments on Wednesday to intervene to help migrants camped on the Belarus border. Neither Latvia nor Poland is allowing the migrants, who are mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, into their countries, and the Baltic states have accused Belarus of using the migrants as a political tool for revenge for sanctions placed on them by the EU.
The court decided to apply Rule 39 and request that the Polish and Latvian authorities provide all the applicants with food, water, clothing, adequate medical care, and, if possible, temporary shelter. The court also clarified that this measure should not be understood as requiring that Poland or Latvia let the applicants enter their territories.
Polish refugee charity Ocalenie Foundation has grown increasingly concerned for the welfare of the migrants and has been communicating with a group of 32 migrants on the Belarus side of the border with Poland. Updates on their Twitter describe migrants as having no drinking water and nothing to eat since Tuesday.
This comes after the Polish defense minister announced on Monday that it will build a fence along its border with Belarus as well as double the number of troops there in order to halt a flow of migrants.
On Tuesday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on Poland to provide medical and legal support to the migrants. Christine Goyer, the UNHCR’s representative in Poland, said “while we acknowledge the challenges posed by recent arrivals to Poland, we call on the Polish authorities to provide access to territory, immediate medical assistance, legal advice, and psychosocial support to these people.”