June 15, 2024

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Migration Crisis | Conflicts between Polish forces and immigrants on the Belarusian border

(Sokolka) Polish security forces used tear gas and water cannons to push back stone-throwing immigrants as they tried to cross the border from Belarus on Tuesday, accusing Poland of “trying to make the situation worse.”

Damien Simonard with Ola CICHOWLAS in Moscow
French Media Company

According to Polish border guards, a total of 4,000 migrants are currently camped on the border in cold and deteriorating conditions.

The next day, in a telephone interview with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko pledged to prevent a “conflict” with his European neighbors from exacerbating the migration crisis.

Westerners accuse him of planning from the summer of movements migrating from the Middle East to the EU’s eastern borders, which he denies.

A face-to-face meeting began last week between the Belarusian villages of Brusky and the Polish village of Kuznica, where several hundred immigrants, mostly from the Middle East, gathered.

“Immigrants are throwing stones at our soldiers and officers and trying to destroy the fence and cross into Poland,” the Polish Ministry of Defense tweeted on Tuesday. In Gusnica, “our forces used tear gas to suppress the occupation of the diaspora.”

Mutual accusations

Polish officials say three wounded in a row of security forces: a policeman, seriously wounded, a border guard and a soldier.

The European Union (EU) says Minsk has arranged for thousands of migrants to cross the border into Poland and Lithuania in retaliation for sanctions imposed after relentless repression of the opposition since 2020.

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“The (President’s) Lukashenko regime is inhumane and shameless, instrumentalizing the flow of immigrants in an attempt to destabilize and divide the EU. This is intolerable and unacceptable,” French Prime Minister Jean-Costex denounced on Tuesday.

So Brussels and Washington announced on Monday that they would like to expand the criminal proceedings against Belarus in the coming days.

Alexander Lukachenko, the ruling leader of the Belarusian opposition Svetlana Tikanovskaya, was deported (in Lithuania) on Tuesday, ruling that he had “already crossed all the red lines”.

On the same day, Belarusian diplomatic spokeswoman Anatoly Klaus said for his part, “The Polish side’s intention is very clear: to make the situation worse and to prevent any progress towards a settlement.”

“Avoid Conflicts”

“The conduct of the Polish side is completely unacceptable,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who ruled that the poles “violate all legal standards”.

“The main thing today is to protect our country and our people and to avoid conflicts,” Lukashenko said in the morning, quoting the state news agency Belda. “This problem should not turn into a violent conflict.”

His interview the day beforeMe In August 2020, Merkel marked a victory for the Belarusian leader, whom the West has refused to talk about since his slanderous re-election.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin reported that he had spoken by telephone again with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

“Exchange on the border migration crisis between Belarus and the EU countries continued.

The President of Belarus, who has been in power since 1994, Mr.Me Merkel said the crisis should be mitigated.

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“We were of the opinion that neither the EU nor Belarus needed an expansion,” he said.

But he added that opinions on how the immigrants came to Belarus were “different” and again denied that his country was in favor of their arrival.

Iraq announced on Thursday that it was repatriating at least 200 of its nationals stranded on the Belarusian border, including women and children.

On Monday, Belarusian airline Belavia announced that Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and Yemenis are now banned from flying from Dubai to Belarus. Turkey imposed similar restrictions last week.

On the ground, many immigrants, who are often in debt to pay for travel, say they are determined to stay, despite limited access to basic necessities.

Charities say at least 11 of them have died on both sides of the border since the summer.

One of them, a 19-year-old Syrian who drowned while trying to cross a river on the border, was buried on the Polish side on Monday evening.