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UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet calls for de-escalation to migrant crisis at Belarus-Poland border

“Appalled” by the migrant crisis at the Belarusian-Polish border, the UN human rights chief Wednesday called on the concerned sides to de-escalate situation.

“I urge the states involved to take immediate steps to de-escalate and resolve this intolerable situation in line with their obligations under international human rights law and refugee law,” said Michelle Bachelet.

“I am appalled that large numbers of migrants and refugees continue to be at the Belarus-Poland border,” she expressed.

Strong “security-focused” and “politically charged responses” on both sides, including the increased deployment of troops and “accompanying inflammatory rhetoric,” exacerbates the vulnerability and risks of those at the border, Bachelet asserted.

She said several people had died over the past few months in the border area.

“These hundreds of men, women and children must not be forced to spend another night in freezing weather without adequate shelter, food, water, and medical care,” the UN rights chief urged.

Tensions between Poland and Belarus escalated on Monday after nearly 4,000 migrants, mainly from the Middle Eastern countries, headed to the Polish border and tried to breach the barriers, the UN said on Tuesday.

The EU accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of engaging in a form of “hybrid” warfare and using migrants as a weapon to destabilize the European countries.

“I call on the authorities concerned to ensure that the human rights of these individuals are the paramount concern,” Bachelet said.

She further said that states need to work together to protect the lives and dignity of all those stranded at their common borders.

“Immediate access should be granted to humanitarian actors, as well as other civil society and journalists and lawyers.”

Under international law, she said, no person should be prevented from seeking asylum or other forms of international human rights protection, and individual consideration must be given to their protection needs.

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