Poland has threatened Belarus with further economic sanctions and closing its border to all goods and rail traffic, as thousands of migrants try to cross the border. The European Union accused Belarus of creating a humanitarian crisis by bringing migrants across the border in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed during last year’s rigged election.
Facing the border crossing, Polish border guards filmed footage on Tuesday night showing Belarusian security forces next to a section of a broken border fence.
Poland’s prime minister said on Wednesday he was ready to escalate what he called a political crisis triggered by Belarus – using innocent people as “human shields”.
“We want to defuse this tension, but if there is an escalation by the Belarusian side, on the other hand, we are, unfortunately, ready to go down this ‘escalation ladder’. For example, [imposing] Economic restrictions, border closures, border crossings for goods and rail traffic,” he said.
The European Union said on Tuesday it was preparing emergency legal measures on migrant asylum and return procedures.
“It aims to help member states to put in place correct procedures so that irregular arrivals can be managed in a fast and systematic manner, in line with fundamental rights,” he said.
Tensions have eased in recent days after Belarus took some migrants away from the border. Hundreds of people are still trapped in the camps in cold conditions. Several migrants have already died while attempting the crossing.
“For Poland, there is no way. For Belarus, there is no way. We cannot go anywhere. We stay here until Europe accepts us,” says Diyar, an expatriate from Iraq.
A Human Rights Watch report based on interviews with dozens of migrants describes how Belarusian forces cut razor wire fences to help migrants cross into Poland, where they are usually picked up by Polish border guards. Is.
“They pleaded with Polish border guards for asylum, for international security. And if any person does so, then it is the responsibility of the state officials to act on these claims. Now what people told me that nothing like this happens. Rather, they are being put in vans or cars and then Polish border guards are driving them to specific locations on the border with Belarus where they force them to cross over fences and return to the Belarusian side, “Human Right says Lydia Gall watch.
The migrants say they are then held in open air camps on the Belarusian side of the border.
“They are not provided with food or water, they are often violently tortured by border guards, extorted money from them. They would then drive large groups of people back towards the Polish fence where they would force them back to Poland. And so when you have these so-called ‘ping-pong’ pushbacks,” Lydia Gall says.
Poland denies breaking any asylum laws. Belarus also denies that its border guards have been abused.
Among the latest casualties of the crisis – an unborn child – was miscarried by his mother as the family crossed the border. His small coffin was buried on Tuesday in a Muslim Tatar cemetery near the border with Poland.