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Caucasus Asylum-Seekers Returning To Polish Refugee Camps

The protesters were headed for Strasbourg
The protesters were headed for Strasbourg
Most of the 200 Chechen, Ingush, and Georgian asylum-seekers who were detained at the Polish-German border today are being sent to a refugee center in Warsaw, RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service reports.

Refugees told RFE/RL that a small group of refugees who organized the attempt to go by train to France are being questioned by Polish authorities at the border town of Zgorzelec, where the train was stopped by officials before it entered Germany.

The protesters -- who boarded the train without tickets -- told RFE/RL they wanted to go to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to highlight their poor living conditions in Polish refugee centers and police abuse they said they have experienced.

The refugees have reportedly been refused political asylum in Poland.

Meanwhile, the pro-Moscow Chechen President Ramazan Kadyrov told journalists in Grozny today that the refugee protest in Poland is an "act of desperation."

He said, "If these people return home, their rights will be protected better."

Polish journalist Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich, who writes about human rights in Chechnya, told RFE/RL that it is hard to obtain political asylum in Poland in general but the European Union law known as the Dublin Regulation does not allow refugees to leave Poland for another EU country if an asylum request is refused in Poland.

She said that creates difficulties for Polish officials, who do not know what to do with the refugees, and leaves the asylum-seekers with few options.

Kurczab-Redlich said refugees are only allowed to work one year after arriving in Poland and if they do find jobs they are required to leave free refugee hostels and pay for their housing.

She said most North Caucasian and Georgian refugees who are refused asylum in Poland want to leave for richer European countries.