Poland builds a fence and doubles the number of troops on the Belarus border | human rights news

Poland says that allowing immigrants to enter Polish territory will encourage more illegal immigration.

Poland’s defense minister said Poland will build a fence along its border with Belarus and double the number of troops there, to stem the flow of migrants that the European Union says is being implemented. Driven by Minsk In retaliation for EU sanctions.

Poland and two European Union countries Lithuania and Latvia have reported sharp increases in the number of migrants from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan trying to cross their borders.

The European Union says Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is waging a “hybrid war” with migrants to put pressure on the bloc.

Poland’s Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said a new 2.5-meter (8.2-foot) steel fence will be built on the border with Belarus.

At a press conference on Monday at the border, Blachchak also said that the military presence there would increase.

“It is necessary to increase the number of soldiers… We will double the number of soldiers soon to 2,000,” he said.

The Polish government has come under fire from human rights advocates over the plight of a group of migrants trapped for two weeks in the open between Polish and Belarusian border guards near the village of Osnars Gorny.

Poland says allowing migrants to enter Polish territory will encourage more illegal immigration and will also play into the hands of Lukashenko.

“These are not refugees, they are economic migrants brought in by the Belarusian government,” Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydać told reporters.

“We will soon double the number of soldiers to 2,000,” Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said. [File: Alik Keplicz/AP Photo]

Rights groups criticize Poland

Some lawyers and NGOs accuse Warsaw of inhumane treatment of stranded migrants by denying them entry.

The Polish Ombudsman for Human Rights said the border guards had violated the Geneva Convention by not accepting verbal statements from some migrants that they wanted to apply for international protection in Poland.

“People were asking for protection from the border guards and the border guards were pushing them back,” said Peter Bistryanen of the Okalini Foundation, which helps refugees.

“It means that they have been in contact and that means that they should give them the possibility to apply for protection… It is very simple.”

Mahdia Gholami, a translator who helps the Okalini Foundation, said Polish forces are hampering their efforts to communicate with migrants across the border.

“When I start saying something, the soldiers start the engines,” she said.

Polish border guards and the military did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lithuania said on Monday it will complete construction of a 508-kilometre (315-mile) fence along its border with Belarus by September 2022.

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