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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Top Polish Catholic official urges help for migrants on Belarus border

04.10.2021 20:00
A top Catholic Church official on Monday said Poland had a duty to protect its borders amid a mounting migrant crisis, but urged assistance to asylum seekers from war-torn countries.
Abp Stanisław Gądecki
Abp Stanisław GądeckiPAP/Paweł Supernak

In an official statement shared with state news agency PAP, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki said that “sensitivity to the fate of those who arrive in our country, as well as medical and humanitarian assistance for migrants, should be a priority for public as well as non-governmental institutions, including Churches and religious communities.”

He added that authorities were obliged to expose “potential threats” posed by some of those attempting to cross the border, but warned against “making harmful generalisations, such as that every immigrant is a potential terrorist.”

Gądecki, who leads the Polish Episcopal Conference (KEP), the central authority of the Catholic Church in Poland, thanked public agencies and the Catholic Church’s own Caritas Polska charity, as well as border officials, the military, local communities and private individuals, “for helping those in need however they can,” the PAP news agency reported.

He added that the Catholic Church was willing to “join the search for best, legally acceptable solutions that serve the common good.”  

Gądecki, who is one of Poland’s most senior churchmen, called for the creation of humanitarian corridors and a “fully controlled” relocation process whereby migrants could freely choose their destination, instead of “chaotic migration engineered by human-trafficking gangs."

Thanking all those who provided help in recent weeks to Afghan people after the Taliban’s takeover of their country, Gądecki urged “all the good people” to “pray for the arriving migrants and refugees” and “assist them,” as fellow human beings, “in the spirit of Christian brotherhood.”

Poland and fellow EU members Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have accused Belarus' strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of organising a wave of illegal migrants seeking to enter the bloc as part of what officials have called a "hybrid war."

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, visited Poland last week, agreeing with Warsaw’s view that “firm steps” were needed against Belarus.

Also last week, Polish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to extend a state of emergency in parts of two regions along the border with Belarus by two months amid a growing migrant surge.

The state of emergency gives authorities broader powers to monitor and control the movement of people on the Polish-Belarusian border, which is also the eastern border of the European Union.

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP