A forensic spatial analysis released by Amnesty International (AI) on Thursday revealed a suspected illegal pushback of Afghan asylum seekers by Poland late in August. The analysis further indicates that the 32 Afghans are presently living in deplorable conditions.
Through photogrammetry and other spatial modelling techniques, AI’s crisis evidence lab analyzed various satellite imagery and videos to come up with a 3D reconstruction of the Poland-Belarus border. This enabled AI to take an overview of the make-shift camp of the refugees, and track and monitor its movements.
A three-dimensional matching of the photographs enabled the analysts to estimate the position of the figures and their subsequent movement. The analysis indicated that the position of the group shifted from being partially on both sides of the border on 18th August to being fully moved to the Belarusian side on the following day. AI believes that this shift of movement is highly indicative of an illegal pushback by Poland.
Besides the indication of the pushback, the analysis also revealed inhumane conditions in the makeshift camp. These include lack of adequate shelter, food, clean water, and sanitary facilities. The conditions are further exacerbated by Poland’s active state of emergency which has restricted journalistic and humanitarian access to the area.
AI has called on Poland to keep to its obligations under EU and international refugee law by taking individual assessment of all asylum claims and refraining from unlawful returns. AI further urged Poland to end all pushbacks and to ensure access to its territory to those seeking protection. It has further called on Poland to repeal the state of emergency to allow access by journalists, activists, and NGOs to the area.