Due to lack of access to the border, the UN team had interviewed 31 people who had reached Poland through Belarus and disclosed that most of them were "beaten or threatened by security forces" on the Belarusian side.

Thousands of migrants – mostly from the Middle East – have camped in Belarus for weeks, often in bitter conditions.
Thousands of migrants – mostly from the Middle East – have camped in Belarus for weeks, often in bitter conditions. (Leonid Shcheglov / AP)

The UN said that its investigators have not been granted access to the Belarus-Polish border but their probe had uncovered "dire conditions" for migrants camped there.

A UN rights office team had travelled to Poland from November 29 to December 3, but "was not granted access to the restricted border area," spokesperson Liz Throssell told reporters on Tuesday.

And "Belarus regrettably did not accept our request to visit," she added.

"We urge the authorities of both countries to allow access to the border areas ... and to stop practices that put refugees and other migrants at risk", she said.

Throssel called on "both countries to urgently address this appalling situation in line with their obligations under international human rights law and refugee law."

Without access to the border, she said the UN team had interviewed 31 people who had arrived in Poland through Belarus between August and November this year.

"They described dire conditions on both sides of the border, with no or limited access to food, clean water and shelter, often amid freezing temperatures," Throssell said.

READ MORE: Poland detains scores of migrants as hundreds attempt to cross EU border

People at border 'beaten or threatened by security forces'

Throssell indicated that most of those interviewed by the UN team described being "beaten or threatened by security forces" on the Belarusian side.

They also said, "Belarusian security forces forced them to cross the border, instructing them when and where to cross, and prevented people from leaving the border area to return to Minsk."

"Several interviewees said Belarusian security forces had demanded extortionate sums for food and water," she stated.

"We call on Belarus to conduct full investigations into these disturbing allegations, which include coercion and ill-treatment, and put an immediate end to such practices."

The investigators had also heard numerous reports of people "being immediately and automatically returned to Belarus from Poland, including children" as well as people seeking asylum, Throssel said, pointing out that many had crossed the border "multiple times in both directions."

She decried that current Polish legislation calls for people entering through unofficial border crossings to be immediately returned.

Poland, she expressed, should review those laws and "instead conduct meaningful individual assessments to determine individual protection needs, consistent with the prohibitions in international law of refoulement and of collective expulsions."

Thousands of migrants – mostly from the Middle East – have camped in Belarus for weeks, often in bitter conditions, hoping to cross the Polish border and enter the European Union.

A number of people are reported to have died in harsh conditions.

Western countries accuse Belarus of having engineered the migrant influx to pressure the bloc, which has imposed sanctions over the regime's crackdown on the opposition and independent media.

Belarus denies this and has urged the EU to take in the migrants.

READ MORE: EU, Belarus discuss migrant crisis as humanitarian situation worsens