Poland Declares State of Emergency on Border with Belarus Over Illegal Arrivals

Polish soldiers construct a barbed wire fence on the border with Belarus in Zubrzyca Wielka near Bialystok, eastern Poland on August 26, 2021. - The Polish Ministry of Defence has announced the building of a one hundred kilometer long, two and a half meter high fence along it's border with …
JAAP ARRIENS/AFP via Getty Images

Polish President Duda declared a state of emergency after a request by the Government to help protect its border with Belarus after an influx of Middle Eastern migrants arrived across the border in recent weeks.

Hundreds of migrants have crossed from Belarus into Poland within the last month, and in response, the Polish government had asked President Andrzej Duda to declare a 30-day state of emergency in Podlaskie and Lubelskie, the two regions that border Belarus.

According to a report from the news service Reuters, the state of emergency is the first in Poland since the fall of the communist regime. Duda approved the government’s request Thursday afternoon.

Euronews reports that human rights group Amnesty International, which can be generally relied upon to oppose border control for European nations, has opposed the move, calling the declaration a cynical move to “target asylum seekers and those who support them”.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had claimed the Belarusian government has actively helped migrants to cross the border illegally, a charge that has also been made by Belarus’s other neighbour Lithuania in early August as well as European Union officials.

“The situation on the border with Belarus is a crisis,” Morawiecki said this week and added: “Lukashenko’s regime decided to push these people onto Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian territory in an effort to destabilise them.”

According to some reports, Belarusian border officials have not only been helping migrants cross into European Union member states, but have even forced them to do so at gunpoint, firing shots in the air and ordering migrants to cross a small river in one incident.

Chatham House, a London-based think-tank, has called the actions of the government of President Alexander Lukashenko as being akin to “hybrid warfare” intended to destabilise the European Union.

Last month, the Polish government noted the massive increase in illegals coming across the border from Belarus compared to the prior year. In 2020, just 122 people crossed the border illegally, but as of early August, the figure was over 870.

Polish authorities claimed that most of the migrants were from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Belarusian government has also been accused of scheduling direct flights of around 4,000 migrants from Iraq to the Belarusian capital Minsk, but Iraqi officials stopped the flights last month.

 

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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