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9 Nov, 2021 14:14

Poland claims Belarus has flown in up to 15,000 migrants to fuel border crisis

Poland claims Belarus has flown in up to 15,000 migrants to fuel border crisis

Warsaw has doubled-down on claims that Belarus is orchestrating an illegal migration crisis on its doorstep, accusing the neighboring nation of bringing in thousands of desperate people and encouraging them to cross the border.

In an interview with Polish radio on Tuesday, Stanisław Żaryn, the spokesman for the country’s Special Services Minister, said that crowds attempting to storm the border in recent days had been drummed up by Minsk. “Our estimates suggest that there are as many as 12,000 to 15,000 migrants recently brought into Belarus,” the official said.

“We know that the migrants who were brought to the border… set up camps,” Żaryn went on. “We expect that the pressure of their actions, right at our border, will be carried out for many days, if not longer.”

Also on rt.com How thousands of migrants tried to take Belarus-Poland border by storm

In addition, he claimed, security officers are coordinating the efforts of the groups to cross into the EU country, having laid on flights to bring them in primarily from countries in the Middle East. According to Żaryn, the move is part of embattled Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko’s bid to “gather huge masses of people in order to destabilize the borders of the EU.”

Minsk has consistently denied it is behind the sharp spike in the number of attempted illegal crossings in recent months, insisting it is simply no longer prepared to stop migrants reaching the shared frontier. However, Brussels has pointed to a high volume of flights from troubled nations like Iraq and Iran, accusing Lukashenko’s government of “weaponizing” the flow of desperate people seeking refuge as part of a bid to put pressure on the bloc over sanctions.

At the same time on Tuesday, Warsaw announced that it would suspend one of the main crossings between Poland and Belarus. Thousands of police officers, border guards and soldiers have already been deployed to help prevent the groups of would-be asylum seekers reaching the country. On Monday, authorities deployed tear gas and riot shields to turn back those who attempted to breach the barbed wire fence.

Several people are understood to have died in recent weeks while sleeping rough near the frontier with the EU. The UN’s refugee rights agency has urged Poland to ensure that those fleeing war and strife can access humanitarian assistance.

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