The Polish government has asked President Andrzej Duda to declare a state of emergency along the Polish-Belarusian border.
Poland accused Belarus of using immigrants as political pawns and pushing them into the European Union to retaliate against EU sanctions. According to a recent report by the BBC, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Poland of initiating a “border conflict” and infringing on Belarusian territory.
The state of emergency will create a three-kilometer-wide area around the border, prohibiting outsiders from entering.
Duda said: “Please expect Poland’s security to be passed in the near future and the subsequent actions taken at the Polish border will be strengthened.”
The country’s parliament needs to approve the emergency declaration, and Duda said he thinks it will.
About 30 immigrants, mainly from Iraq and Afghanistan, have been at the border for several weeks.
So far, Poland’s response has been to deploy troops to the border and install barbed wire.
Last week, it stated that it had provided tents, blankets and generators to immigrants remaining in Belarusian territory.
Also last week, UNHCR called on Poland to provide medical and legal support to immigrants.
Some refugee rights organizations say that some immigrants are sick. According to reports, a group of people tried to dig a hole in the barbed wire fence.
According to the Associated Press, about 3,000 immigrants tried to enter Poland from Belarus this month.
It is not only Poland that accuses Belarus of using immigration as a political pawn. Other Baltic states said that Minsk, after suppressing those protesting the re-election of controversial President Lukashenko in August 2020, is pushing immigrants to them in response to EU sanctions.
Last week, the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, said it was monitoring the situation.
“We firmly reject attempts to use people for political purposes,” spokesman Christian Wiegand said in Brussels. “We cannot accept any attempt by a third country to incite or acquiesce in illegal immigration” to the EU.
Some of the information in this report comes from the Associated Press and Reuters.