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18 July 2022, 14:32

UN rapporteur on migrant rights visits Grodno

Migrants in the refugee shelter in the transportation and logistics hub Bruzgi. An archive photo
Migrants in the refugee shelter in the transportation and logistics hub Bruzgi. An archive photo

GRODNO, 18 July (BelTA) – The United Nations Organization's special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants Felipe Gonzalez Morales visited Grodno, BelTA has learned.

Felipe Gonzalez Morales met with representatives of the Grodno Oblast administration. The dialogue touched upon matters concerning the migrant crisis that started in November 2021. Over 2,500 people stayed in Grodno District during the first wave. Refugees stayed in the region for over four months.

Participants of the meeting discussed the experience of organization of a refugee shelter in the transportation and logistics hub Bruzgi, the organization of humanitarian aid, medical aid, psychological aid, and other kinds of aid. Deputy Chairman of the Grodno Oblast Executive Committee Vitaly Nevera said: “A spontaneous camp of refugees from Syria and Iraq emerged outside the border checkpoint Bruzgi at the Belarusian-Polish border. There were many kids and about 200 pregnant women. Steps were taken right away to organize conditions for their stay. The delivery of food and drinking water, blankets and warm clothes, firewood began. A refugee shelter was set up in the transportation and logistics hub later on.” The official added that firefighters, police, and medics worked at the site every day. An educational module for children was arranged.

Representatives of the delegation inquired about the organization of access of mass media and representatives of international organizations for the sake of examining the situation. Vitaly Nevera said: “We were absolutely open to reporters and were ready to receive any aid. A press center and an information center were established. Reporters were granted access. About 90 accreditations were granted to foreign mass media. Representatives of various Belarusian and foreign associations and organizations, including an ambassador of Iraq, visited the refugee camp. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya Kochanova visited the camp. People were not left out in the cold. They stayed in the territory of our region till the end of March.”

During the meeting it was noted that the Belarusian side had not demonstrated a negative attitude to the refugees. “All the people staying there had communications and Internet access. They were not cut off from the world and could receive information. Oppression on the part of the host country would have been revealed to the public. There are no complaints about the Belarusian side,” Vitaly Nevera said. It was also noted that about 20 people had sought refugee status in Belarus.

The special rapporteur is an independent expert authorized to study ways to overcome hindrances for the sake of honoring human rights of all migrants at all migration stages. He is also authorized to work out recommendations for protecting and honoring human rights of all migrants. For the sake of realizing the mandate the special rapporteur visits various countries with their approval, compiles reports as a result of the visits with non-mandatory recommendations, and prepares spotlight presentations on the most troublesome aspects of migrant rights. Felipe Gonzalez Morales visited Poland on 11-16 July. He was in Grodno on 16-18 July and is expected to visit Minsk on 18-19 July.

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