Migrants in Limbo: The Human Toll of Belarus-Poland Border Crisis

Migrants at the Belarus-Poland border face dire conditions amid escalating tensions between Belarus, Russia, and the EU. Humanitarian workers struggle to offer aid as Poland tightens border security to curb migration, attributing the surge to coordinated efforts by Belarus and Russia to destabilize the region.

PTI | Bialowieza | Updated: 04-06-2024 14:15 IST | Created: 04-06-2024 14:15 IST
Migrants in Limbo: The Human Toll of Belarus-Poland Border Crisis
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A Somali woman pushes her bandaged hand between two vertical bars of a thick metal barrier separating Belarus from Poland as she and four other women gaze toward the European Union.

They nod gratefully as a Polish humanitarian aid worker calls to them across a stretch of land as wide as a one-lane road and promises to help. Polish soldiers patrol nearby.

The verdant patch of Bialowieza Forest that spans the border is among the flashpoints of a monthslong standoff between Belarus and its main backer and ally Russia, and the 27-member European bloc, which has seen a surge in migrant flows toward the frontier ahead of EU parliamentary elections that start on Thursday.

The number of attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus into EU-member Poland has surged to almost 400 a day in recent months, compared to hardly any earlier this year, according to Polish officials. Videos posted by Poland's border guards showcase increasingly aggressive behavior by migrants.

Incidents involving soldiers and guards being attacked have become more common. Recently, a soldier was stabbed near Dubicze Cerkiewne. EU authorities accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of weaponizing migration to destabilize the European bloc.

Poland views the situation as a coordinated effort by Russia and Belarus to stir anti-migrant sentiment, potentially bolstering far-right parties in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. The metal barrier between Poland and Belarus, built in 2022, is a pivotal point for anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk considers the migration surge a strategic operation to break the Polish border. Poland argues that this migrant influx is part of a larger scheme by Russia and Belarus to destabilize the EU, which has shown strong support for Ukraine. Reports suggest many migrants carry Russian visas.

As tensions increase, migrants face arduous conditions in hostile territories. Aid volunteers, like Olga Cielemencka, try to assist within their limited capacities. Critics argue that Tusk's government, while focused on border security, overlooks the dire humanitarian needs of the migrants stuck in these hostile environments.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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