Poland’s prime minister says his country is no longer prepared to take the 7,000 refugees it agreed to accept in negotiations with the European Union because of the deadly Brussels attacks.
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Beata Szydlo said on Wednesday that she does “not see any possibility for the refugees to come to Poland” after explosions rocked the Belgian capital a day earlier, according to Polish broadcaster Superstacja.
Poland had planned to admit an initial 400 refugees this year, and the rest would be allowed in over the next three years. Last year, thousands of Poles took to the streets and social media to promote participation in anti-refugee marches across the country, organised by far-right nationalist movements such as the National Radical Camp.
In October, President Andrzej Duda said the government should take steps to protect its citizens from refugees bringing in “possible epidemics”.
The comments by the president, whose role is largely ceremonial, echo those of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the populist Law and Justice party, of which Duda is a member.
Kaczynski had spoken of “cholera in the Greek islands” and “dysentery in Vienna”, and he accused refugees of “bringing in all kinds of parasites, which are not dangerous in their own countries, but which could prove dangerous for the local populations” in Europe.
Physical abuse of Poland’s barely visible refugees has also been reported. In November, George Mamlouk, a Christian refugee from Syria’s city of Raqqa, was attacked in the street of Poznan by three young men who broke his nose and a finger, as well as injuring his leg.
A crowd of onlookers gathered – some watched passively; others were chanting for his attackers to “kill him”, Mamlouk said.
Poland has long been reluctant to take in refugees, but finally agreed to accept more than 5,000 of the 120,000 people to be shared between the 28-member European Union – in addition to an initial 2,000.
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