Sunday, November 28

Europe. Poland accuses Belarus of smuggling migrants in small groups

Poland said on Saturday that Belarus had changed tack, now leading small groups of migrants to multiple points on the European Union’s eastern border. “We have to prepare for the fact that this problem will last for months,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told the radio.

“Now a slightly different method has been adopted by migrants and Belarusian services. Smaller groups of people are trying to cross the border in many places,” the minister said.

The day before, the Polish authorities had counted 195 attempts of passage and 82 expelled migrants. “The largest group was made up of around 200 foreigners, the others several dozen. The foreigners were aggressive, threw stones and used tear gas,” Polish border guards said on Twitter on Saturday.

According to the minister, these attacks are directed “without a doubt by the Belarusian services”.

“Absolutely possible” Belarusian forces will help migrants get through

For its part, the Belarusian state border committee assured that “the efforts to push back refugees violently and brutally from the territories of neighboring states members of the European Union continue”.

In Warsaw, several hundred people expressed their disapproval calling for “Save people at the border” and shouting that “No one is illegal”. In Hajnowka, a town on the Belarusian border, members of the “Mothers at the border” group gathered in support of the rights of exiles.

Thousands of migrants, mostly Iraqi Kurds, have been stranded for days in a cold and humid forest on the border with Poland, hoping to reach Western Europe. The West accuses Belarus of artificially creating the crisis by issuing visas in revenge for Western sanctions against the regime.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko admitted on Friday that it was “absolutely possible” that his forces had helped people cross into the EU, but denied orchestrating the operation. “We are Slavs. We have heart. Our troops know that migrants are going to Germany … Maybe someone has helped them,” he said. “But I didn’t invite them here,” he said.

On Thursday, Belarus mentioned the presence of 7,000 migrants on its territory.

About 400 of them were repatriated Thursday by plane to Iraq and some 2,000 sheltered in the hangar of a logistics center near the border.

Hundreds of migrants in precarious situations

Their situation remains precarious, according to a representative of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Belarus, Musuleu Mamo, who visited the center on Saturday. “If you ask me if the living conditions are good there, I would tell you not”, he declared to the press, quoted by the Russian agency RIA Novosti. Food, care, clothing: “There is a lot missing,” he said.

A representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived on site to help organize medical support for migrants, according to the Belarusian Minister of Health.

Yemen’s foreign minister said he was working on the repatriation of its nationals, eight in Belarus and nine on the Polish side.

On Friday, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic demanded an end to the controversial returns of migrants from Poland to Belarus.
According to Polish media, at least eleven migrants have died since the crisis began this summer.

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