Poland fears ‘major incident’ as migrants from Belarus head for border
VIDEO SHOWS: VIDEO FOOTAGE OF MIGRANTS IN BELARUS NEAR POLAND BORDER/ COMMENT OF MIGRANT/ STILL IMAGES OF MIGRANTS’ CONFRONTATION WITH POLICE
STORY: Poland accused Belarus of trying to spark a major confrontation on Monday (November 8) as video clips showed hundreds of migrants walking towards the Polish border and some trying to breach the fence using spades and other implements.
Warsaw said it had deployed additional soldiers, border guards and police, while neighboring Lithuania said it might introduce a state of emergency on its border with Belarus.
The European Union, to which Poland and Lithuania both belong, accuses Minsk of encouraging migrants from the Middle East and Africa to cross into the EU via Belarus, as a form of hybrid warfare in revenge for Western sanctions on President Alexander Lukashenko’s government over human rights abuses.
Lukashenko’s government has repeatedly denied manufacturing a migrant crisis, blaming the West for the crossings and treatment of migrants.
The Belarusian state border committee confirmed on Monday that many refugees were moving towards the Polish border, but said Warsaw was taking an “inhumane attitude.”
Poland has stationed more than 12,000 troops at the border, its defense minister said, while sharing aerial footage of migrants clustered on the Belarusian side.
The EU, the United States and Britain imposed sanctions on Belarus after Lukashenko unleashed a violent crackdown on mass protests following a disputed election last year.
Lukashenko has defied opposition calls to resign, buttressed by money and diplomatic support from traditional ally Russia.
Charities say the migrants face freezing weather conditions and a lack of food and medical attention.
Poland said seven migrants had been found dead on its side of the border, with reports of more deaths in Belarus.
Humanitarian groups accuse Poland’s ruling nationalists of violating the international right to asylum by pushing migrants back into Belarus instead of accepting their applications for protection. Poland says its actions are legal.