Polish-Belarusian border: Empty camps, border crossing attempts continue

WARSAW, POLAND – Polish authorities said on Friday there were no more migrants camping along the Belarus side of the European Union’s eastern border, but attempts to illegally cross the border into its territory. The block continues and becomes more aggressive.

And Ukraine, which also shares a border with Belarus, said it would build border fences and ditches and hold military exercises to stem any attempted migrant flow.

About 50 migrants crossed the fence into Poland on Thursday, said Anna Michalska, a spokeswoman for the Polish Border Guard. They include a family of five who say they want to stay in Poland, opening a settlement process. Others will have to return to Belarus, Michalska said.

Two other large groups of migrants were prevented from entering. Some migrants threw stones and used tree branches to beat Polish border guards.

Hundreds of Iraqis flew home on Thursday from Belarus after giving up hope of reaching the EU.

However, many migrants remain in a heated warehouse that Belarus has just provided near the border. They have been camping in a cold and wet forest since November 8.

A charity fundraiser was held in Michalow, near Poland’s border with Belarus, with locals and some people from around the country bringing clothes, blankets and other items to hundreds of people. emigrated to Poland. They are currently in hospital or in shelters for foreigners, waiting for their application for international protection to be processed. In most cases, they are rejected.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday reiterated his warning that the situation at the border presents a security challenge.

“We stand ready to assist,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Berlin.

He welcomed “the fact that Iraq is now taking back people and has prevented” the migrants from flying to Belarus.

He also noted that NATO has seen “a significant Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s borders (with) an unusual concentration of forces.”

“We call on Russia to be transparent and prevent escalation as well as help and ease tensions along the border with Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

Meanwhile, Polish President Andrzej Duda, during a visit to North Macedonia, said that in recent talks with Stoltenberg he had “pointed out all the hypothetical military threats” that could arise. from Belarus.

“I believe … we will get through this crisis and the Belarusian regime will stop its joint attacks against our countries,” Duda said.

Poland has informed Belarus that it intends to stop the movement of goods by rail at the border gate near Kuznica on Sunday, due to security concerns, due to the constant presence of migrants at the warehouse in there. Road traffic was stopped there last week.

Tensions have flared at the Polish-Belarusian border in recent days, with some 2,000 people trapped between the two countries’ forces. The UN refugee agency says about half of all migrants at the border are women and children.

A deadlock warning bell rang in the area. The West has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of using migrants as pawns to destabilize the EU in retaliation for sanctions imposed on his dictatorship. Belarus denies causing the crisis, which has seen migrants enter the country since last summer and then attempt to cross through Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Ukraine, which shares borders with both Belarus and Russia, said on Friday it would build a 2,500-kilometer (1,550-mile) fence along its border with those neighbors to help fend off any illegal migration flows.

Next year, funds will be allocated for the construction of the fence estimated at 17 billion hryvnas (about $640 million), Interior Minister Denys Moosystemrskiy said.

“Building fences, nets and barbed wire, with surveillance and alarm systems covering the whole, along the entire border … is the most rational decision,” Moosystemrskiy told the Ukrainian parliament. .

Ukrainian authorities also plan to dig a ditch 4 meters (13 feet) wide and 2 meters (6.5 feet) deep in the open parts of the country’s borders with Russia and Belarus.

The country is planning military exercises over the next two weeks to prepare for illegal border crossing attempts by migrants.

“Our main goal is to prevent and prevent a large number of possible illegal migration,” Moosystemrskiy said.

On Friday, Ukrainian authorities announced they had intercepted a group of 15 people of Middle Eastern origin trying to cross the border from Belarus into Ukraine – the first such incident on the Ukrainian border since the crisis began. rise up.


Daria Litvinova in Moscow; Yuras Karmanau of Kyiv, Ukraine and Konstantin Testorides of Skopje, North Macedonia, contributed


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