Hundreds of migrants gather at border with Poland
Several hundred migrants have made their way on foot to the border with EU neighbor Poland, according to authorities in Belarus. From the point of view of the Polish government, the migrants might try to break through the border near the town of Ku?nica Bia?ostocka and continue to Germany via Poland. Poland announced that it would strengthen protection at the EU's external border.
"According to the latest information, this huge group of migrants is under the control of armed Belarusian units that decide where it can and cannot go," intelligence coordinator Stanis?aw ?aryn wrote on Twitter. He spoke of another hostile action by the neighboring country against Poland. The Polish government, therefore, convened a crisis team.
Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller told the PAP news agency that the most difficult situation since the beginning of Lukashenko's actions against Poland could occur on the border with Belarus on Monday. More border guards will be sent to the relevant section. It also said it was in constant contact with the EU border agency Frontex. The Ministry of Defense published aerial photos showing a large crowd of people near the border.
Lithuania is also sending the military to its border with Belarus to prepare for a possible influx of migrants. This was announced by Lithuanian Interior Minister Agn? Bilotait? at a press conference on Monday. According to her, the Cabinet will discuss whether to declare a state of emergency in the border area. How many soldiers will be sent to the region and where exactly they will be posted, the authorities did not want to specify, citing security reasons.
Belarus' border guards said Monday they had taken "all necessary measures" to ensure security, according to a report by state news agency Belta.Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko faces criticism for allowing people to be flown in from various crisis regions and then smuggled into the EU. In response to sanctions against his country, he had declared that he would no longer stop people on their way to a better life in the "cozy West". There have already been several deaths among migrants in the border region. The EU states of Poland and Lithuania have reported thousands of border crossings in recent months.
Germany is considered a major destination for migrants. According to data from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, an average of about 170 migrants arrived in Germany every day via Poland recently. There has been no further increase, ministry spokesman Steve Alter said. The number of asylum applications had also stopped rising. In October, he said, 11,586 people applied for asylum for the first time - not including the children of protection seekers born in Germany - 4.6 percent fewer than in the previous month.
However, the caretaker Federal Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer (CSU) continues to believe that irregular migration "will remain a major issue." The CDU/CSU parliamentary group plans to introduce a proposal in the Bundestag on Thursday regarding the situation on the German-Polish border. Seehofer has suggested Poland intensify joint patrols. Stationary border controls by the federal police are not planned so far.
The EU no longer recognizes Lukashenko as head of state of Belarus (formerly Belarus) since last year's disputed presidential election. The "last dictator of Europe," as critics call him, is supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin on Monday welcomed the authorities' actions in connection with the migrants. Lukashenko is cracking down on any opposition.