Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Poland finds ‘substantial evidence’ of extremism among migrants

Image copyright AFP Image caption Photographer Jan Bednarek reported on refugees living on the border with Serbia

Poland’s State Security Service says it has found “substantial evidence” of extremism among migrants passing through its territory.

The agency says it has questioned people from dozens of nations who have attempted to cross into Poland or the EU’s Schengen zone.

However, it stopped short of describing the people it questioned as “radical Islamists”.

The protection of such asylum seekers is a sensitive issue in Poland, which has been led by the anti-immigration party Law and Justice (PiS) since 2015.

The Press Agency reports that the surveillance agency’s statements will be discussed on Friday by an extraordinary session of parliament, which is currently debating the 2019 budget.

Migrants ‘raised voices’

According to PAP news agency, state security chief Stanislaw Zaryn said: “In our searches we have found substantial evidence of extremist movements within our Schengen partners.”

However, Zaryn stopped short of describing the people who were questioned as “radical Islamists”.

He said they were “nationals from a variety of nations that only fit into one tag – extremism”.

The agency said it had questioned dozens of people, including those who have already been granted asylum in EU member states, who had tried to enter Poland.

In one case, a 20-year-old man from Aleppo told the agency he was forced to live in the forest and “raise the voices” of the others.

He said he crossed the border with Serbia on 13 October last year.

What does the migrant debate look like in Poland?

Migrants have been a hugely sensitive issue in Poland since the government led by the PiS took power in 2015.

Despite the EU demanding tough asylum measures in return for financial aid, most of the about 43,000 migrants who have passed through the country, usually heading for Germany, have sought safety by walking across the border.

Under pressure from the EU, Poland denied migrants permission to cross its territory, leading to clashes with Croatia and Serbia, who were also refusing to help and risk international sanctions.

Poland’s migration policy is now enshrined in a law that warns it may be cited by the European Commission if it does not do more to tackle “irregular migration”.

Until now, the case of Syrian war refugee Shamima Begum, who has given birth in a Birmingham refugee shelter and could soon be resettled in the UK, has been the only one of its kind to have been reported on in Poland.

About 20 to 30 other young women who have been at the shelter have reportedly gone missing from the residence since she arrived, increasing the suspicion that they were trained fighters.

The charity Crisis said last week it was checking the whereabouts of Syrian Yazidi women in the shelter, after they told a member of staff that they had been told to stay inside to stop the media from reporting on it.

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