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Migrants at EU border - Poland closes border crossing with Belarus - News

Migrants at EU border – Poland closes border crossing with Belarus – News

  • Poland closed the Kuznica border crossing with Belarus at 7 am on Tuesday. The Polish border guards announced this Monday evening on Twitter.
  • In response to the situation at the EU’s eastern border, the EU has partially suspended an agreement on visa facilitation with Belarus.
  • On Monday, large groups of migrants near Koznica tried in vain to break through the external borders of the European Union from the Belarusian side.

According to the findings of the European Commission, there are currently about 2,000 migrants in the Belarusian-Polish border area – many of them come from crisis areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Videos posted Monday evening on social media can be heard as Polish officials warn people in a makeshift tent camp over loudspeakers against illegally crossing the border into the European Union. The European Commission spokesman promised Poland to provide short-term assistance if the government in Warsaw so desired.

Thousands sleep in tents

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When the temperature was below zero, thousands of migrants spent the night in tents in the border area between Belarus and Poland. Aside from a stone’s throw away, the local Polish police authority announced on Twitter Tuesday morning. Belarusian state media published photos and videos of people gathered around campfires and children lying in sleeping bags on the ground in the forest area.

The Belarusian state media reported the alleged shooting on the Polish side, citing the border guards of the autocratic state. At first there was no official information from Poland.

The government in Warsaw and the European Union accuses Belarusian authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of targeting people from various crisis regions in order to smuggle them into the European Union. Lukashenko, repeatedly criticized as “Europe’s last dictator,” has declared that he no longer wants to stop refugees on their way to Europe – as a reaction to the sanctions imposed on his country.

He called for more sanctions

In light of the situation at the Polish-Belarus border, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for additional sanctions. On Monday evening, von der Leyen said Belarus should stop the “cynical exploitation of migrants”. “I call on member states to agree to the extended sanctions regime against the Belarusian authorities responsible for this mixed attack.”

In particular, the European Union is working to penalize third-country airlines that are involved in transporting migrants to Belarus. European Union Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas said he will travel to the countries of origin and transit of migrants in the coming days.

EU cancels some visa exemptions

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The European Union is partially suspending an agreement on visa facilitation with Belarus. “This decision is a reaction to the ongoing mixed attack on the part of the Belarusian regime,” a statement issued on Tuesday said.

The European Union Commission proposed this step at the end of September in the struggle over alleged immigration through Belarus. According to the information, the order applies to “officials of the Belarusian system”. In the future, obtaining an EU visa will be time consuming and costly for them. Ordinary Belarusian citizens are not affected by the decision. It will now be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force in two days. The agreement in question has only been in effect since July 2020.

The European Union has not recognized the 67-year-old Lukashenko as the head of state of Belarus since last year’s presidential elections, which were widely considered rigged, and has also imposed punitive measures in this context. Lukashenko is backed by Russia, among other countries.

Fear of a humanitarian catastrophe

The two European Union countries, Poland and Lithuania, have reported thousands of border crossings in the past few months. Germany is a major destination for immigrants. Human rights activists continue to call for help to people stuck in the forest and to warn of a humanitarian catastrophe. Many migrants have already died in the border area.