The border wall between Poland and Belarus is under construction

KUZNICA, POLAND – Poland has begun construction of a US$394 million wall on its eastern border to stop migrants promoted by Belarus, in what the European Union calls an “attack”. mixed”, illegally crossing into EU territory.

Reporters were allowed to view the work in the protected area on Thursday.

Pressure from thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa on Poland and Lithuania’s wooded border with Belarus began in the summer, leading to clashes with Polish border guards. Poland blocked the border with Belarus with razor wire and increased the number of guards. International efforts have been made to warn migrants trying to enter the EU from Belarus. The migrants are mainly headed to Germany.

The EU says migrants are being used by Belarus’ authoritarian leader to destabilize the 27-member bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions on Minsk following an election that is internationally seen as fraud and a crackdown on the opposition.

At least 12 migrants have died in bogs and forests in the border area, and conditions worsen as winter temperatures are below freezing.

Poland’s 5.5 meters (18 ft) high metal wall with barbed wire fence runs for more than 180 km (115 mi) along the mainland portion of the border with Belarus, which also includes the Bug River as the border . Two construction companies will do it around the clock, starting at four different locations. It will be completed by June, at a cost of about 1.6 billion zlotys ($394 million.)

The work comes at a time when European nations are debating increased external border protection and regulations for returning migrants who are not allowed to stay in their countries of origin. , if these countries are safe.

Critics and environmentalists say the wall will not stop migrants, but will harm one of Europe’s last primeval forests, the Bialowieza forest.

Natalia Gebert of Grupa Granica (Borders Group), which provides aid to migrants and asylum seekers in Poland, says the group is “totally against” the wall.

“The wall only stops the disabled, the weak, the sick,” Gebert told The Associated Press. “It doesn’t stop desperate people who are hiding from danger from trying to cross,” Gebert said.

In the first three weeks of 2022, the group received requests for help from nearly 350 people, including 51 children, she said.

Kalina Czwarnog of Ocalenie (Deliverance) said the money for the wall could be better spent on ways of managing migration “in a way that is humane and in line with international law.”

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