Migrant border crossings increase at Poland-Belarus border


TALLINN, Estonia — The Polish border service on Friday reported an increase in the number of Middle Eastern migrants trying to cross into the European Union illegally at the Belarus-Poland border.

In the past 24 hours, border agents have arrested 117 migrants from Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, Cameroon, Morocco and Sri Lanka, and 65 more were arrested the day before. Belarusian border officials declined to comment.

Last week, the Polish border service released a video from October 26 that appears to show Belarusian border guards near the border with Poland, leading a group of migrants and trying to hide their faces from the camera. He said Belarusian border guards were helping migrants cross the border into Poland, with most migrants now going first to Russia and then on organized transport to Belarus.

“The Belarusian military is actively involved in organizing the illegal crossing of the Polish-Belarusian border, bringing there people who want to enter European countries illegally,” the Polish border service said.

The increase comes a year after thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, appeared in Belarus and attempted to cross the EU border, creating a crisis that has seen thousands stranded in the border area in disastrous conditions.

At the time, Western governments accused authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of using migrants as pawns to destabilize the 27-nation bloc in retaliation for imposing sanctions on his government for a brutal internal crackdown on dissent. Belarus has denied the accusation.

Poland has since built a $330 million wall along its border with Belarus which was completed in June. In recent months, Polish border guards have reported that dozens of migrants have been apprehended after climbing the wall or walking through tunnels under it. On some days, the number rose to 130 or more.

Polish soldiers began laying barbed wire along the border between Poland and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad on Wednesday after the government ordered the construction of a barrier to prevent what it fears could become another migration crisis. .


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

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