Poland says Belarus continues to bring migrants to its border

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WARSAW / VILNIUS, Nov.21 (Reuters) – Poland on Sunday accused Belarus of continuing to transport migrants to its border, despite the evacuation of camps near the border earlier this week, as Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was traveling to the Baltic States to seek help in the crisis.

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

Minsk, which denies fomenting the crisis, cleared a migrant camp near the border on Thursday and began repatriating some people to Iraq in what appears to be a change of course in the conflict that has turned into a major confrontation Is West.

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Yet Poland says Minsk continues to transport hundreds of migrants to the border, where a dozen migrants are believed to have died in a freezing winter.

“On Saturday (…) a group of about 100 very aggressive foreigners, brought to the border by Belarusian soldiers, tried to enter Poland by force. The (Polish) services prevented the passage,” said Sunday. the border guard on Twitter.

There were 208 attempts by migrants to forcibly enter Poland from Belarus on Saturday, the border guard said, slightly more than on Friday but well below the 501 attempts recorded on Wednesday.

Neighboring Lithuania said 44 migrants were barred from entering on Saturday, the lowest number in a week.

A dozen Iraqi migrants, speaking to Lithuanian news portal DELFI over the border with Belarus on Saturday, said they were forcibly taken there in military trucks by Belarusian officials, who ignored their wish to return to Iraq.

“A PRELUDE TO SOMETHING WORSE”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visited Estonia and Lithuania on Sunday to discuss the crisis with his counterparts in the Baltic countries. He will travel to Latvia later today.

“Today, on the eastern border of Poland, we are dealing with a new kind of war, a war in which migrants are weapons, in which disinformation is a weapon, a hybrid war,” Morawiecki said in Estonian capital Tallinn, adding new economic sanctions against Minsk were under discussion.

Morawiecki said in Lithuania he was receiving reports that the difficult situation in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country in August “could be used as the next stage in the migration crisis.”

“I think that the things that are unfolding before our eyes, these dramatic events, are perhaps just a prelude to something much worse,” he added.

Poland and Lithuania called for continued support from the European Union and NATO.

“For us, it is very important that all discussions (with Belarus) are coordinated with Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, which are at the forefront of the hybrid attack, and that no decision is taken that does not fundamentally solve the situation, “said the Lithuanian Prime Minister. Ingrida Simonyte told reporters.

France’s foreign minister said on Sunday that Russia must put pressure on its ally, Belarus, to end the migrant crisis.

A SW Research poll published by the Rzeczpospolita daily on Sunday showed that 55.1% of Poles fear the border crisis could degenerate into regular armed conflict.

However, hundreds of people took part in demonstrations in Warsaw and near the Belarusian border on Saturday to ask for help from the migrants.

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Reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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