WASHINGTON D.C. – President Biden, scheduled to hold talks Friday with Polish government representatives in Warsaw, should meet with refugees and leaders of non-governmental organizations working with refugees when in Poland. Human Rights First urges Biden to use these meetings to remind the Polish government of its obligations to uphold the human rights of all refugees and migrants.
“We’ve seen an impressive welcome extended to those fleeing the invasion of Ukraine into Poland, but the Polish government has turned away refugees from other countries who have sought protection at Poland’s border with Belarus. President Biden should address this discriminatory double standard with the Polish government, and listen to the advice of Polish human rights leaders working at NGOs assisting refugees who can brief him on the situation at Poland’s borders,” said Human Rights First’s Senior Advisor Brian Dooley, who is currently at the Ukraine-Poland border.
The organization is also aware of reports that some transgender people are not being allowed to leave Ukraine due to the new martial law which forbids men aged 18 to 60 from leaving Ukraine.
“President Biden should also remind Ukrainian authorities that transgender people are at severe risk from the Russian invasion and should not be prevented from fleeing the country,” recommended Dooley.
“Beyond pressing Poland to uphold refugee law without discrimination, the United States should welcome people fleeing the Ukrainian invasion, including Ukrainians with U.S. family, third country refugees who were previously staying in Ukraine, human rights defenders, LGBTQ people, and others facing grave risks,” added Eleanor Acer, Human Rights First’s Senior Director for Refugee Protection. “The U.S. must lead by example by restoring refugee protection at its borders without discrimination or double standards. ”
In November 2021, Human Rights First produced a briefing paper on the Polish security forces’ mistreatment of migrants and refugees at the Belarus border. In the current crisis, Human Rights First has recommended the U.S. assure the protection of Ukrainian human rights defenders should they be forced to flee their country.
Human Rights First also continues to urge the Biden administration to end the misuse of Title 42, the Trump era policy that prevents refugees from seeking asylum at the U.S. border and disparately harms Black asylum seekers.