Eastern Europe. For Red Cross humanitarian Georgia Trismpioti, “emergency aid is needed for the hundreds of people trapped”. Maintenance
Since the establishment of a state of emergency in September, the Polish government has established a three-kilometer-wide no-go zone along its border with Belarus. Even the International Federation of the Red Cross, as well as other NGOs, are not allowed to go there, explains Georgia Trismpioti, humanitarian diplomacy adviser.
What is the situation in this area where asylum seekers are stranded?
Georgia trismpioti The Red Cross is not present in this area, like other international organizations. No one has the right to help migrants there. Even the Polish Red Cross has not been allowed to enter this area, and this is our main concern, as we know that hundreds of people who are trapped between the two countries and they desperately have need for humanitarian assistance and protection. Unfortunately, we cannot go to them and offer them this, since the Polish government has declared this area inaccessible with a state of emergency.
Are negotiations underway in order to gain access to this sector?
Georgia trismpioti Obviously, we are in contact with the Polish authorities and we are trying to explain to them that humanitarian access is extremely important. We are hopeful that, in the coming weeks, we will be able to reach these people to distribute what they absolutely need.
In the absence of external observers, it is not known how many people remain stranded in this area. Does the Polish government give figures to humanitarian organizations?
Georgia trismpioti Since we do not have access to the area, we cannot make our own assessment or confirm the data presented to us. We therefore have no precise vision of what is happening in this part of the territory.
What about the Red Cross on the Belarusian side?
Georgia trismpioti As far as I know, the Belarusian Red Cross was able to come to the aid of a group of migrants near the border, but I have no further information on what is allowed on the other side.
So is there a total absence of humanitarian assistance at the border?
Georgia trismpioti It should be noted that the Polish Red Cross assists, in collaboration with local NGOs, migrants in the region, outside the red zone. It provides them with blankets, sleeping bags, clothing for adults and others for children. There is also a “Humanitarian Service Point” in Michalowo, where migrants can receive assistance.
But humanitarian organizations must be granted effective access to all people in need, regardless of their legal status, including in detention, at borders and in camps. Through the International Federation of the Red Cross, the National Red Cross Societies of the respective countries should be able to provide essential assistance and protection to those in need, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence without putting people at risk. In addition, humanitarian organizations must be able to support migrants and their families in the process of establishing, re-establishing or maintaining contact along migratory routes and at destination, if they so wish, including in places of detention.