Poland sends 500 more soldiers to protect the Belarusian border

The Polish government says it is sending 500 additional soldiers and special vehicles to the border with Belarus to bolster them against increasing migrant pressures, which it believes is orchestrated by Belarus and Russia

WARSAW, Poland – Poland is sending 500 additional army troops and special vehicles to its border with Belarus to bolster it against increasing migrant pressures, which the government of Belarus and Russia says is being orchestrated to destabilize the European Union.

“We are dealing with a well-organized action that is being led from Minsk and Moscow,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said at a press conference on Monday.

“We will defend Poland’s border with full determination” and prevent migrants from entering the country, said Morawiecki after a meeting with Poland’s interior minister and the head of border protection.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said 500 more soldiers and eight special vehicles will be sent to the border this week.

The EU members Poland and Lithuania are facing increasing migration pressure on their borders with Belarus, which are part of the eastern border of the bloc. They say it is a “hybrid attack” by the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk to destabilize the 27-nation EU. The border pressure began after western countries imposed sanctions on the Lukashenko regime for its repressive measures against the opposition.

However, Morawiecki noted that the necessary medical care is being extended to the migrants who have reached Poland.

He said three migrants, including an Iraqi, who were found dead near the Belarusian border on Sunday, died of hypothermia and exhaustion. The Iraqi will undergo a detailed autopsy after his companions report that he behaved strangely before he died. Kaminski said the men were turned back to Belarus by Poland’s border guards at some point.

According to the head of the border guard, General Tomasz Praga, Polish border guards on the Belarusian side also saw the body of a woman near the border.

Morawiecki and Kaminski said migrants from the Middle East and Africa are paying large sums of money in Belarus that are alleged to be smuggled into Germany but are left behind by Belarusian soldiers in the dense pristine forests and bogs on the border with Poland. They said Belarus has introduced visa-free travel with some Middle Eastern countries that have “great illegal migration potential” to take in migrants and force them into Poland and Lithuania.

Morawiecki said a pregnant migrant was recently arrested while leading 13 migrant children who were not hers. The children were hospitalized, some of them with COVID-19.

But humanitarian organizations draw attention to the plight of migrants.

Poland and Lithuania are building barbed wire fences, stepping up border patrols and imposing a temporary state of emergency along their borders to stop illegal migration, but they are also banning reporters and humanitarian groups from the border strip. Poland is due to decide at the end of September whether the 30-day state of emergency introduced on September 2 should be extended.

Authorities said there had been over 8,000 illegal entry attempts from Belarus this year, including over 3,800 attempts in September.

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