Belarus plans to use Afghan migrants as border pawns

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VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) – The Polish leader warned on Sunday of possible migratory pressures on the European Union’s border with Belarus, this time from Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, following discussions with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte on how to resolve the “very difficult situation” at the borders of EU members with Belarus. He was on a day-long tour to meet the prime ministers of EU member countries Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, who have also been affected by pressure from migrants.

All leaders stressed the need for joint action and said the border crisis created by Belarus has strengthened their cooperation.

The EU says the new wave of migrants on its eastern borders was orchestrated by the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed on Belarus after its crackdown on peaceful democracy protesters. He describes this decision as a “hybrid attack” against the entire bloc of 27. Belarus denies the accusation.

Polish border guards said on Sunday that they had prevented the illegal entry of some 100 “very aggressive foreigners” who had been brought to the fenced border near the village of Czeremcha by Belarusian forces on Saturday.

Morawiecki said he expected pressure from migrants on Poland and the EU to continue, but now from a different region, saying he was aware of the “diplomatic” contacts Belarus and Russia had with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“There is a threat of an even more difficult scenario,” Morawiecki said. “There will most likely be an attempt to use the crisis in Afghanistan as yet another act in the migration crisis, capitalizing on the West’s remorse over the disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

In the Latvian capital of Riga, Morawiecki said that “only the total withdrawal of migrants and steps towards de-escalation can lead to any constructive scenario with Lukashenko”.

Earlier in Estonia’s capital Tallinn, Morawiecki said Poland was ready to contribute financially to return flights for migrants stranded in the rainforest on the border for weeks. He said Warsaw was also ready to close all border crossings with Belarus to step up economic pressure on the Lukashenko regime. The Polish level crossing near Kuznica was closed last week.

Lithuanian Simonyte stressed that the EU should coordinate all future actions on Belarus with the countries at the forefront of these attacks – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

“The European Commission has now resumed technical talks with Minsk. It is very important that no decision is taken that does not resolve the situation, “Simonyte told reporters, warning against any separate discussion between Poland and Belarus.

Poland pushes back migrants, saying it protects the border for all of Europe and NATO. He received words of support from the EU, NATO and the US

A few migrants died in the forests straddling the border. Others gave up hope of reaching Europe and were flown back to their home countries last week.

The Polish Tatar community in the eastern village of Bohoniki held the third funeral of a migrant on Sunday, burying 37-year-old Yemeni Mustafa Mouhamad Murshid al-Raimi, who was found on September 19 in the forest suffering from hypothermia .

The European Commission on Sunday launched new charges against Lukashenko.

“During the crisis, Lukashenko behaved like an unlicensed tour operator who sold expensive travel packages to the EU, but they collapsed when they arrived,” EU Home Commissioner Ylva Johansson told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. “Families and children have been deceived and drawn into a tragedy which has resulted in a great deal of suffering”

Polish border guards said they recorded more than 34,000 attempts to enter Poland illegally this year, including more than 17,000 in October and more than 6,000 in November so far. Germany has recorded a few thousand people reaching its territory from Belarus.

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Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Jari Tanner in Tallinn and Monika Scislowska in Warsaw contributed.

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Follow all of AP’s stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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