Poland Could Declare State of Emergency at Belarus Border
The Polish government has asked President Andrzej Duda to declare a state of emergency along the Poland-Belarus border. Poland accuses Belarus of using migrants as political pawns by pushing them into the European Union in retaliation over EU sanctions. According to a recent BBC report, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Poland of starting a “border conflict” and violating his country’s territory. The state of emergency would create a three-kilometer-wide zone around the border that would prohibit outsiders from entering. FILE – Polish President Andrzej Duda speaks in Gdansk-Westerplatte, Sept. 1, 2020.”Please expect Poland’s security to be strengthened in the nearest time through acts of law, and also through subsequent actions on Poland’s border,” Duda said. The country’s parliament would need to approve the emergency declaration, and Duda said he thinks it would. About 30 migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, have been in limbo at the border for weeks. So far, Poland’s response has been to deploy troops to the border and install a barbed wire fence. Last week, it said it had provided tents, blankets and power generators to the migrants, who remain on Belarusian territory. Also last week, the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, called for Poland to provide medical and legal support to the migrants. Some refugee rights groups say several migrants are sick. One group reportedly tried to cut a hole in the barbed wire fence. About 3,000 migrants have attempted to enter Poland from Belarus this month, The Associated Press reported. Poland is not alone in accusing Belarus of using migrants as political pawns. Other Baltic states have said Minsk is pushing migrants toward them in response to the EU sanctions following a crackdown against those protesting the disputed reelection of President Lukashenko in August 2020. Last week, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, said it was monitoring the situation. “We firmly reject attempts to instrumentalize people for political purposes,” spokesman Christian Wigand said in Brussels. “We cannot accept any attempts by third countries to incite or acquiesce in illegal migration” to the EU. Some information in this report comes from the Associated Press and Reuters.