| 3 February 2023, Friday |

EU neighbors jointly rebuke Belarus for illegal migrant surge

On Saturday, the presidents of Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia met in Warsaw to criticize Belarus for enabling migrants to illegally enter the European Union over its borders.

“All European Union member states have a duty to safeguard borders and prevent unlawful entry,” said a Polish government statement issued after the countries’ prime ministers met via videoconference.

Lithuania has reported an increase in unlawful border crossings from Belarus in recent weeks, accusing Minsk of flying in migrants from elsewhere and deploying them into the EU.

Earlier this month, Poland accused Belarus of sending a growing number of migrants over the border in retaliation for Warsaw’s decision to give refuge to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics.

Belarus officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Polish authorities have faced criticism from human rights groups for not accepting migrants, and for denying those at the border adequate medical care.

A read-out of the videoconference, circulated by the Polish Prime Minister’s Chancellery, stated that all illegal migrants had been cared for appropriately.

“It’s important to underline that those who did in fact cross the border are being cared for in special sites for this purpose,” the statement read.

More than 30 migrants have been camping out in the forest along Poland’s border with Belarus near the village of Usnarz Gorne for almost two weeks, Polish media reports say.

Poland’s border guard was seen unrolling barbed wire along the border, footage from private broadcaster TVN showed.

Poland’s Border Guard said in a tweet published Friday that it had already asked Belarusian authorities three times to intervene and that Belarus said it was doing so.

Meanwhile, Poland in recent days flew in over 260 individuals fleeing Afghanistan, Polish prime minister chief of staff Michal Dworczyk told PAP news agency on Saturday.

  • Reuters