Record number of people attempt to cross the border between Poland and Belarus, officials say

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The Polish border guard told Granthshala that Saturday’s 739 crossing attempts were the highest for a single day. They are the latest in a weeks-long migration crisis at the border, for which Poland imposed a state of emergency last month.

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Poland’s border agency says it has halted nearly 16,000 attempts to cross the Polish-Belarusian border illegally since August. 5,000 of those happened in October.

The crossing can become increasingly dangerous as the weather changes. At least four people died on the border between Poland and Belarus in August; Belarusian state agency Belta reported that according to Polish officials, three people were found dead on the Polish side of the border after suffering from hypothermia, and a quarter were found dead in Belarus, a meter away from the border.

Many of those arriving at the Eastern European borders are from Afghanistan and Iraq.


Relations between Belarus and its neighbors are becoming increasingly tense over the border situation. In August, the prime ministers of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of creating a crisis by driving migrants to the European Union.

On Friday, Poland also summoned Belarusian charge d’affaires Aleksander Zasnowski, amid allegations that Polish troops stationed at the border were fired upon. Czasnouski told the press that “the information about the shots is not accurate.”

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A tweet from the Polish Border Guard on Sunday said that “Patrols of officers and soldiers reported that shots were heard once again last night on the Belarusian side near the border with Poland.”

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European officials have also accused Belarus of encouraging people to cross illegally into Poland and its other EU neighbors, as part of efforts to pressure the bloc over sweeping sanctions imposed on Minsk.

The sanctions by the EU, US and UK in June were a coordinated response by the Lukashenko government to the forced landing of a Ryanair flight and the arrest of an opposition journalist, as well as “continued repression” in the former Soviet state.


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