Poland reports fewer attempts to cross border with Belarus

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WARSAW / BIALYSTOK, Poland, Nov. 20 (Reuters) – The number of migrants attempting to force entry into Poland from Belarus fell again on Friday after an apparent change of course from Minsk that could help calm an emerging crisis is transformed into a great East -West front.

Polish border guards said on Twitter that there had been 195 attempts to cross the border on Friday, up from 250 on Thursday and 501 the day before, although Warsaw warned the migrant crisis was far from over.

Europe accuses Belarus of transporting thousands of people from the Middle East and pushing them into the EU, which has disagreed with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko since a contested election last year.

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Belarus, which denies fomenting the crisis, cleared a migrant camp near the border on Thursday and started repatriating some people to Iraq, but Poland said on Friday that Minsk was still transporting hundreds of migrants by truck to the border. .

“Yesterday (…) there were several attempts to forcibly cross the border. The largest group consisted of around 200 foreigners, the others dozens of people. The foreigners were aggressive – they threw stones , firecrackers and used tear gas, “said the border guard. on Twitter on Saturday.

Polish police said that during an attempted pass near the village of Starzyna on Friday, Belarusian soldiers threw stones at Polish border guards, police officers and soldiers, causing damage to police cars.

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Rights groups have criticized the Polish nationalist government for its treatment of migrants, with accusations of multiple refoulements and failure to provide medical support as well as adequate food and shelter.

According to local authorities, around ten migrants died in the woods along the border with the onset of a freezing winter, and many more were injured or suffered without food or water for days.

Poland has imposed a state of emergency near the border and does not allow journalists or NGOs to operate in the region. He claims his uniformed services provide adequate care to migrants arriving in Poland when needed.

Hundreds of Poles took part in two separate protests on Saturday in Warsaw and in the town of Hajnowka near the Belarusian border to express their support for the migrants and ask for help for them.

“We are here to firmly oppose it, because we want no one in our country to die in the forest, no one to starve in the forest and no one to be detained in the forest,” said Adrianna Klimaszewska, a social activist. from Wroclaw who participated in the “Mothers at the border” demonstration in Hajnowka.

“We demand this from our country. We demand the access of doctors to the border area, we demand the access of humanitarian organizations.”

‘GO TO POLAND’

Despite the drop in the number of border crossings attempts, Polish officials said they expected further tensions.

“No, this political crisis is not coming to an end. Belarus is still interested in escalating and continuing operations against Poland,” Stanislaw Zaryn, spokesperson for the Polish security services wrote on Twitter.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will visit Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Sunday to discuss the crisis, a government spokesperson said on Saturday.

Migrants in a so-called “safe place” run by residents on the Polish side of the border told Reuters that even after the camp was dismantled, Belarusian security forces continued to push them across the border. One of them was successful Thursday night.

“We went through the forests, they (Belarusian forces) told us every day ‘Go to Poland’ and we couldn’t cross, so they tried to force us to cross,” said a Syrian migrant.

“It was very tiring, cold, without food, without water, without heat or whatever. I came to seek a peaceful country, I just want to live,” he added.

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Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk, Sergiy Karazy, Anna Koper, Yara Abi Nader, Fedja Grulovic, Stephan Schepers; Written by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk and Anna Koper; Editing by David Clarke, Ros Russell and Christina Fincher

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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