November 27, 2021

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Poland warns that immigration crisis will last for years

Sokolka | Poland warned on Wednesday that the crisis with Belarus would “last months or even years,” as migrants again “attacked the Polish border” on the eastern edge of the European Union overnight.

On Tuesday, Polish security forces used tear gas and water cannons to repel immigrants who hurled stones at them as they tried to cross the border.

The West accuses Minsk of organizing the crisis since the summer, with several thousand migrants, mainly from the Middle East, still camped on the Belarusian side in the most dangerous situation, in response to sanctions and splitting the EU. .

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 the relentless crackdown on Belarusian opposition since 2020.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his key ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have denied the allegations and criticized the EU for failing to welcome immigrants, some of whom have been stranded for weeks in tree-lined border areas of Poland and two other European neighbors. Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia refused to welcome them.

“The situation on the Polish-Belarusian border will not be resolved soon. We must be ready for months, even years,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blask told Polish Public Radio PR1.

According to the minister, immigrants continued to cross the border overnight using the same “method of attacking the Polish border” found at the Brusky-Kuznica border checkpoint on Tuesday.

“The public was focused on what happened in Kuznica, while small immigrants tried to cross the Polish border into other sections, even at night,” he says.

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Eleven people were injured

On Tuesday, Polish border guards registered a total of “161 illegal gods” along the border, including “two attempted crossings”.

Polish police said Wednesday that nine officers, a border guard and a soldier were injured in Tuesday’s clash.

Belarus and Russia condemned the actions of Polish forces on Tuesday, following the announcement on Monday that Brussels and Washington would like to expand their penalties against Belarus in the coming days.

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

Iraq on Thursday announced a scheduled return flight for at least 200 of its nationals stranded on the border, including women and children.

Appeals for humanitarian assistance

President Lukashenko, who has been in power for three decades, spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday about the crisis.

This is his first phone call with a Western leader since the mass protests against his rule were suppressed last year.

French President Emmanuel Macron also worked with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to defuse the crisis.

Aid organizations say at least 11 migrants have died on both sides of the border since the crisis began this summer, and have called for a humanitarian response.

The European Commission on Human Rights, which visited the border on Tuesday, said the situation on the border between Poland and Belarus was “very complex and problematic.”

“We need to find a way to alleviate the situation,” he told reporters.

On Wednesday, Russian state television showed hundreds of immigrants in a closed center set up by Belarusian authorities near the border, where families spent the night with their children.

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Belarus’s health ministry says six people have been hospitalized, including four children.