2016-03-31 10:26:00

Poland will not walk away from EU deal to accept 7,000 refugees

(Vatican Radio) Poland's foreign minister says the government stands by its pledge to take in 7,000 refugees under "strict conditions" after previously suggesting that Poland would walk away from the deal with the European Union following last week's terror attacks in Brussels which killed dozens of people.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report:

The announcement came amid growing frustration among rights activists and refugees stranded near the border with Macedonia as several countries have closed their borders and announced new measures to halt the influx of people fleeing war and poverty.

Poland's Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has told Polish television that his country will be ready to "review the applications" of refugees. However he warned that his country would only accept people whose identities are confirmed, who are found to pose no security threat and who are willing to come to Poland. He expressed doubt as to whether 7,000 such refugees could be found. Yet his comments suggested that Poland's recently right wing government would keep the door a little bit open for potential refugees.

Following the attacks in Brussels, which is the capital of both Belgium and the EU, Polish Prime Minster Beata Szydlo said she saw "no possibility" of accepting any migrants. Her words were seen as walking away from Poland's pledge to the EU to take in 7,000 refugees. Poland isn't alone in tightening rules; Austria plans to place further limits on who qualifies for safe haven.

Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner says that under the new rules, asylum applications will be accepted only from people Austria is compelled to take in, for instance persons who face threats to safety in a neighboring country through which he or she transited.


Austria has set a limit of 37,500 asylum applications for the year, after receiving nearly 90,000 in 2015. Officials say 14,000 were submitted as of the end of March. Besides Austria several countries along the traditional Balkan route towards the West have closed their borders.

And the government in Hungary, which already erected razor wire fences along its frontiers with Serbia and Croatia, says the army is being prepared to send more than 6,000 troops to the borders if in its words the migrant situation so requires.        
The developments have added to frustration among thousands of refugees stranded in Greece, for instance near the closed border of Macedonia and in other areas. A refugee from Afghanistan told reporters that he has not given up dreams to start a better life in the West. “We want nothing from the Greek government. They themselves are in trouble, the Greek economy right now,” he said. "We’re asking the world, the big countries, to open the borders for us. We’re not here for money. We’re here for a safe place. We want a peaceful land on the planet.”

He was among hundreds of refugees, human rights activists and students who took to the streets of Athens chanting “open the borders.” Their show of anger on Wednesday came shortly before Turkey was to start taking in those people deemed to be "illegal migrants" from Greece under a controversial deal with the European Union.

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.