The EESC expresses its concern about the situation on the border with Belarus

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This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Convention of 1951, which shaped the concept of asylum for Europe and was later extended on a global scale with the New York Protocol of 1967: both legal instruments are obligatory and generate responsibilities for the countries that have signed them, including the 27 EU states.

The EU has been a benchmark in the contemporary world for the protection of all persons who are forced to leave their countries for the reasons set out in this international framework. And it must continue to be so.

However - as the EESC has shown - the lack of an effective common asylum system for the whole EU as well as of real agile and efficient mechanisms for managing migration towards the EU has generated - especially in some countries - an undue vision of migration as "potential dangers for the EU". This warlike discourse intoxicates the debate.

The EESC has always advocated a common and effective migration policy that makes it possible for people to arrive legally and safely in the EU either for socio-economic reasons (labour migration) or for reasons of international protection (refugee status).

This migration policy must also go hand in hand with effective border control to prevent irregular entries and prosecute people smugglers: let us remember that the external borders of the EU are borders of the whole EU given the freedom of movement we enjoy within the EU.

The EESC therefore supports the efforts of the EU's external border countries to preserve their security, which is the security of the EU as a whole.

However - and having said this - it is essential to reaffirm that migrants - for whatever reason they arrive - are human beings with hopes, fears and dreams as well as fundamental rights that must be protected.

We do not accept that people try to enter EU territory illegally and much less can we accept the active role of third country governments to use these people politically, expressly denouncing the current attitude of Belarus.

But neither can we understand that a few thousand people (3,000-4,000) at the border can pose a risk not only for a country like Poland but for the whole EU.

20,000 soldiers plus paramilitary forces and police have been sent in, creating an area of exception where there is no freedom of movement and no access for neither the media nor NGOs trying to provide help, which are criminalised.

Collective expulsions are being carried out, no legal assistance is provided and people are kept in undignified conditions in no man's land in an extreme situation.

Let us respond as Europeans: let us offer protection to those who need and deserve it. Let us make it easier for everyone to exercise their rights and let us be respectful of our principles and values. The EU deserves it.