We are calling for the protection of all asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant children at the Belarus-EU border from all forms of violence, and for urgent attention to their critical needs for protection, shelter, food, water and medical treatment.
The on-going humanitarian crisis on the Belarus-EU border has caused at least ten deaths and has left thousands of people, including children, stranded in deteriorating conditions, exacerbated by harsh winter conditions, the COVID-19 pandemic and violence.
Refugee and migrant girls and young women are at a particular risk from violence, sexual abuse and exploitation.
A Plan International spokesperson said: “Refugee and migrant girls and young women are at a particular risk from violence, sexual abuse and exploitation. It is appalling that so many are in a daily struggle for survival in bitterly cold conditions. The time for action is now.”
All displaced children and young people are entitled to specific rights guaranteed by international human rights and humanitarian law, without discrimination, regardless of their refugee, asylum or migration status or the reasons for their displacement. The principle of non-refoulement must be respected meaning that no one should be returned to a country where they would face harm.
Authorities must respect rights of all involved
According to recent reports, there have been more than 5,000 people struggling in bitterly cold conditions along the border between Belarus and Poland, mostly Kurds from Iraq, but also from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen and Cameroon, among others. There are extremely vulnerable groups among those caught up in these events, such as separated or unaccompanied children, girls, pregnant women, families with children and people living with disabilities.
Plan International urges all concerned authorities to respect the human rights, safety and dignity of the children and adults involved in this crisis and allow humanitarian organisations access to the border area where they can address the urgent needs of asylum seekers and migrants.