Poland revokes pledge to accept refugees after Brussels attacks

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Poland Prime Minister Beata-Szydło

Prime Minister Beata Szydło has stated that Poland will not take any refugees, a day after the terror attacks on Brussels.

In January, Szydło announced that 400 refugees would be accepted by Poland, but has now gone back on that decision.

Szydło did not cite security concerns, but rather economic ones, stating that there were already 1.5 million unemployed citizens in Poland. ‘Yes, you are welcome, but what are you going to do here? Live on the streets?’,” Waszczykowski told the Carnegie Europe magazine.

The previous government in Poland, led by Civic Platform, had pledged to take in up to 7,000 refugees last year, but was swept out of power in the October 2015 elections.

The current ruling party Law and Justice (PiS) has been resolutely opposed to any plans to distribute refugees amongst European Union states in a quota system.

In October of last year, Poland’s president Andrezj Duda cited concerns of possible epidemics in the admission of thousands of refugees.

As of January, Poland had accepted just 62 refugees, mainly from Greece.

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The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) estimates that over 1 million people came to the European Union last year, mostly by crossing the Mediterranean to Greece and Italy.

This year the UNHCR estimates that 161,900 have arrived already, with an estimated 488 dead or missing since January alone.

On the 18th of March 2016, The European Council and Turkey reached a deal that would see all refugees crossing from Greece to Turkey being returned. For every one person returned to Turkey, a refugee already registered in Turkey would become eligible for resettlement within the European Union. NATO also began operations in the Aegean Sea to deal with migrants, and in particular, people smugglers, who made an estimated $1 billion (USD) from crossings in 2015.

But the plan did not specify where in the European Union refugees would be placed, and it seems that the quota system is out of the question for countries like Poland for the time being.

Image: By Platforma Obywatelska RP from Polska [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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