Belarus accused of sending 1,000 migrants into the EU 'in retaliation'

8 November 2021, 19:54 | Updated: 9 November 2021, 10:27

Migrants are trying to cross over from Belarus into Poland
Migrants are trying to cross over from Belarus into Poland. Picture: LBC

By Megan Hinton

Poland has increased its border security following reports that a large group of migrants are heading to the crossing point from Belarus.

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Thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa are attempting to cross into Poland from Belarus, with more than 12,000 Polish soldiers deployed to aid the 10,000 troops already in place at the border.

The European Union has called out Belarus for engaging in "a form of hybrid warfare" after allegedly encouraging migrants to cross into the EU in a retaliation to Western sanctions in Minsk over human rights abuses.

A spokeswoman for Poland's Border Guards, Ewelina Szczepanska, said the presence of guards, police and the military has been reinforced with the government declaring a state of emergency in a 3-kilometer-wide strip along its border.

She said it could be seen in videos posted online that migrants are headed for the crossing in Kuznica, in the northeast.

A spokesman for Poland's security services, Stanislaw Zaryn, shared a video on Twitter showing hundreds of people walking down a road.

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"Very worrying information from the border," Mr Zaryn added.

Since the summer, Poland has been under increasing pressure of migrants trying to cross into the EU from the Middle East and Africa.

Poland is blocking these attempts or sending those who cross back into Belarus.

The Minister of National Defence for Poland, Mariusz Błaszczak, said: "Together with the services of the Ministry of Interior and Administration, we are prepared to defend the Polish border."

Warsaw and the EU say it is an organised action by the Belarus government aimed at destabilising the bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions.

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Poland's Border Guard has reported incidents of hostile behaviour and threats by Belarus forces.

Charities say migrants face gruelling conditions trying to cross the border in freezing weather with a lack of food and medical attention.

Whilst humanitarian groups have accused the Polish government of denying the international right to asylum.