Belarus accuses Polish border guards of violence against migrants

Follow RT on Almost 600 attempts to illegally cross into Poland have been observed on Tuesday, Warsaw’s frontier service has claimed, amid an escalating migrant crisis on the country’s shared border with Belarus.

Officials announced in a tweet on Wednesday alleging that nine people — Libyan, Iraqi and Syrian nationals — were detained on the previous day while trying to reach the EU nation. 

Three other individuals — citizens of Russia, Sweden and Lithuania — were also apprehended for assisting the would-be asylum seekers in making the crossing, they said.

Attempts to break through the Polish border from Belarus continued overnight and there were “many” of them, the country’s defense minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the state-run PR1 radio station.

“All those who breached were stopped,” Blaszczak insisted, adding that 15,000 personnel have been deployed to guard the border.

Meanwhile, Belarusian border guards have accused their Polish counterparts of beating the migrants. They have published photos of bloodied people on Telegram, claiming that four Kurdish men alleged they were subjected to violence after being detained during their attempt to cross.

“Judging by the numerous injuries on the bodies of the migrants, the Polish security services treated the people harshly and used force to push them back over the barbed-wire fence on the border with Belarus,” the statement read.

The current crisis erupted after up to 4,000 migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, who are hoping to obtain asylum in the EU, arrived at the Belarus-Poland border on Monday. After their initial onslaught was repelled by the Polish military and police, they set up a camp along the fence separating the two countries, while continuing with smaller attempts to cross.

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Polish President Andrzej Duda described the ongoing events as a “hybrid action” by Belarus against Poland and the EU. He claimed that Minsk is deliberately flying the migrants into the country and directing them towards the border. Duda’s stance has been shared by EU officials in Brussels, with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen calling for more sanctions against Minsk.

In late June, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that his country would no longer be holding back migrants seeking to reach the EU through its territory. The move came in response to sanctions, including restrictions on airspace, that the EU imposed on Minsk over alleged human rights violations and the grounding of an Irish Ryanair flight with opposition blogger Roman Protasevich on board in May.

Shortly after Lukashenko’s announcement, reports emerged of an increase in direct flights to Belarus from turbulent countries in the Middle East and North Africa. At the same time, Belarus’ neighbors began seeing a growing number of attempts to breach their borders.

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Minsk said it wants EU sanctions against it lifted, but denied the accusations of deliberately instigating the migrant flow to the EU. “I’m not a madman,” Lukashenko said on Tuesday, insisting that Belarus never tried to “attack Poland.” Seeking an armed conflict in the middle of Europe would be “suicide,” especially considering that it would “immediately draw Russia into this vortex,” he pointed out.

Since the beginning of 2021, more than 23,000 people have tried to cross the Polish- Belarusian border, triggering Warsaw to declare a state of emergency and bolster the ranks of units stationed along the frontier. Warsaw has also approved the construction of a fortified wall, designed to make illegal crossings far harder.

However, the UN’s refugee rights watchdog has said the country is not doing enough to offer safety to those fleeing war and unrest, with several people understood to have died while sleeping rough close to the border.

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