WARSAW, Poland (AP) – The Polish government is working to warn potential migrants that the country’s border with Belarus is sealed and does not constitute a passage to the European Union, a deputy business minister said on Tuesday foreigners.
Polish diplomats in Middle Eastern and African countries address local media and post messages on popular communication channels to prevent people from trying illegally enter the EU through Belarus, said Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz.
A number of migrants, mostly from Iraq, recently died of exhaustion as they tried to cross from Belarus to Poland through an area of forests and swamps. Polish diplomats are also speaking with government officials in some countries to raise awareness and urge them to warn and protect their citizens, Przydacz said.
“We want to help these people; hence our diplomatic activity in these countries… and our warnings that they could be victims of deception, ”he declared.
EU members Poland and Lithuania have recently faced migratory pressures from their borders with Belarus. They accused the Belarusian government of offering free tourist visas and of intentionally misinforming people that they can find refuge in the EU by illegally crossing neighboring countries.
Claiming Belarus is acting in retaliation for Western sanctions, the Polish and Lithuanian governments have isolated their borders with more guards, military troops and barbed wire.
The executive director of the European border security agency Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, visited Poland’s border with Belarus and was “impressed by the means deployed to secure the border,” Frontex said.
He said Leggeri thanked Poland for “cooperating with Frontex since the start of the crisis” because Poland’s border with Belarus is also the bloc’s eastern border.
Przydacz said this assessment showed that Polish border guards were doing their job well and that no Frontex reinforcements were needed, as suggested by the EU Executive Commission.
Humanitarian organizations and Poland Influential Roman Catholic Church criticized the Polish government for turning back migrant groups that include families with children.
Meanwhile, Belarusian lawmakers have voted to suspend a deal with the EU forcing the former Soviet nation to take back migrants who have crossed its territory and entered the bloc illegally.
Follow AP’s migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration