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Protesters in Poland call for greater solidarity with migrants

Hundreds of people in Poland demonstrated in Warsaw and Krakow on Sunday for the better treatment of refugees, as the government introduces tough measures to stem the flow of illegal migrants into the country.
In Warsaw, demonstrators chanting “stop torture at the border,” gathered in front of the Sejm, the lower house of parliament, to demand an end to deportations while accusing the government of employing so-called pushbacks along Poland’s border with Belarus.
Polish film director Agnieszka Holland told broadcaster TVN2 that migrants were not fleeing their homes on a whim but because they were unable to remain in their own countries.
The government has declared a state of emergency at the border with Belarus and is building a permanent border fence there.
Poland’s parliament also amended a law on Thursday to allow local border guard commanders to expel people who enter the country illegally, in a move prompting the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) to voice its concerns.
The UNHCR said the move undermined people’s fundamental right to asylum and contradicted the UN Refugee Convention.
Border officials in Poland and other countries have recorded rising levels of illegal migration in recent months, as the president of neighbouring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, continues his attempts to flood the EU with refugees.
Lukashenko said in May that his country would no longer prevent illegal migrants from using Belarus as a transit route to reach the EU in response to sanctions imposed on Minsk by Brussels for human rights violations.