Angry Activists Claim Double Standards as Poland Welcome Ukrainian Refugees, Blocks Illegals

TOPSHOT - Border guard officers stand with shields during the construction of a border wal

Pro-migrant activists have expressed frustration as Poland continues to welcome refugees from Ukraine but turns away illegal immigrants crossing the border from Belarus.

Grupa Granica, a group of pro-migrnat NGOs who operate along the border of Poland and Belarus, say that illegal immigrants are being turned back by Polish authorities as the number of attempted crossings has increased in recent days.

“We are in contact with about 100 people who are around the border at the moment. But for sure there are many more. There was a group with nine children: a girl with a kidney problem, a boy with mental problems, a woman who was three months pregnant who was bleeding and a boy who was completely paralyzed,” Monika Matus, a member of Grupa Granica, told broadcaster Radio France International.

According to Matus, Polish guards have been pushing migrants back into Belarus as they attempt to cross, just as millions of Ukrainian refugees have crossed into Poland in recent weeks since the start of the Russian invasion of their country.

“It’s a strange feeling: I’m of course very happy with this welcome boost towards refugees from Ukraine. But you wonder: why can’t it be the same at the border further north? At the Ukrainian border, we have already had more than 2 million people. And on the Belarusian border, we are talking about only a few thousand,” Matus said.

Earlier this week, Polish authorities arrested four members of Grupa Granica at the border, accusing them of helping to smuggle migrants across the border. “Activists saved their lives by picking them up from the cold forest, the exact same way they had done in recent weeks,” the group said in a statement.

In early March, migrant aid groups in Northern France expressed a similar opinion to Matus, claiming the French government engaged in double standards with Ukrainian refugees and asylum seekers from other countries.

“We obviously have nothing against them. But the associations were shocked by the difference in treatment between Ukrainians and non-Ukrainians. A large part of the refugees in Calais are fleeing war or dictatorship,” activist François Guennoc said and added, “This is the case of Ukrainians but also Syrians, Afghans and Sudanese. Except that there is the discriminatory treatment of other war refugees.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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