Polish border guards say migrants crossing into Belarus are making the most of the fact that electronic surveillance equipment has not yet been installed at the border. A spokesman accused Belarus of being behind a growing number of attempted crossings.
With the border wall between Poland and Belarus officially finishedbut still not equipped with cameras and sensors, more and more migrants are trying to cross into the European Union before it becomes more difficult, according to Polish border guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska.
Poland started building a wall at the Belarusian border after a large number of migrants, mainly from the Middle East and Africa, attempted to enter from Belarus in 2021, resulting in a humanitarian crisis.
According to Polish human rights activists, the wall did not stop the flow of migrants, but led to worst problems. They reported a growing number of migrants seriously injured as they tried to cross the barrier, which is 5.5 meters high and 186 kilometers long.
As activists prepare for winter and what they predict will be even more misery and danger for migrants at the border, Polish authorities are installing cameras and sensors on the wall. In a Reuters report Tuesday, November 8, Michalska claims that this electronic system will make border crossings more difficult, a fact which she says is being exploited by the Belarusian regime.
“Belarusian services and people linked to the regime of Lukashenko (the leader of Belarus) know this, and they want to recruit as large a group of foreigners as possible to make this trip,” she said.
In 2021, a humanitarian crisis erupted after a large number of people from the Middle East and Africa tried to enter the European Union via Belarus, but were stopped at the Polish and Lithuanian borders, remaining blocked in the forest or forcibly returned to Belarus. Poland and the EU said Belarus engineered the crisis in retaliation for EU sanctions.
More than 100 per day
This week, Reuters reports that Polish officials said increased activity had again been seen at the Belarusian border and warned that “a new migrant crisis could erupt at (Poland’s) borders”.
While such warnings from Polish border authorities are common, Grupa Granica, an alliance of Polish civil society groups helping migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border, also noted an increase in crossing attempts in recent weeks. The organization’s Anna Alboth said more than 1,800 calls had been received from migrants on the Polish side since the wall was completed.
According to border guards, the number of people trying to cross from Belarus now often exceeds 100 a day. This is significantly higher than the numbers seen during the northern summer months, he said.
On Tuesday November 8, a group of ten people had to be rescued when they got stuck in a swampy area around the Siemianowka lagoon, about 60 kilometers southeast of Bialystok.
Eight of the migrants were Sri Lankan citizens, while the other two were from Pakistan and India, the border guard said, noting on Twitter that “they were very exhausted and had no way of getting back in. safe”.