Poland provides haven for repressed Belarusians

Artur Reszko/PAP

Poland has granted support and protection to over 23,000 Belarusians fleeing persecution in the past 16 months, a senior Polish security official told PAP on Wednesday.

Stanislaw Zaryn, the director of the National Security Department, said that Poland has been providing help to Belarusians fleeing political persecution since the start of the country’s political crisis.

"Since August, 2020, until December 26, 2021, over 23,000 Belarusians have come to Poland requesting help and protection against repression in their country," Zaryn said.

He added that of this number, 12,000 had travelled to Poland on humanitarian visas, 3,400 had declared that they wanted international protection in Poland and 7,600 had arrived under the 'Poland. Business Harbour' programme.

The 'Poland. Business Harbour' programme is a package facilitating passage to Poland for IT and start-up specialists as well as other people running businesses in Belarus.

Zaryn said Belarusian society had been subject to brutal repression since the outbreak of protests over presidential elections in August 2020, widely regarded as rigged in favour of the incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko.

"Many Belarusians have to seek shelter outside their own country," Zaryn explained. "For thousands of them, Poland has been a place of haven from political repression by Lukashenko," he said, adding that refugees arrive in Poland almost every day as they see it as a safe and attractive country.

Zaryn went on to say Poland was a European leader in granting work permits and that according to Eurostat, the country had granted the most applications from people from outside the EU.

He added that Poland accepts foreigners on its own terms and would not tolerate illegal migration.