Poland: some 600 migrant crossings foiled this year

Poland's Border Guard authorities say that almost 600 attempts by migrants at illegally crossing from Belarus have been foiled so far this year

ByThe Associated Press
January 18, 2022, 9:42 AM

WARSAW, Poland -- Poland’s Border Guard authorities say that almost 600 attempts by migrants at illegally crossing the border from Belarus have been foiled so far this year.

The attempts have continued since their peak in the fall, but the number of registered tries has dropped significantly, to dozens a day from nearly a thousand a day in November.

Border guards said on Twitter that on Monday, 23 migrants were detained after having crossed the razor-wire barriers into Poland, a European Union member. They were from Syria, Iraq, Cuba, the Palestinian territories and Turkmenistan. Earlier, Yemenis were also detained. They are chiefly seeking to get to Germany.

Poland says Belarusian security officers are helping the migrants cut and cross the border barriers and attack Poland's border guards, throwing objects across the border line.

Poland is planning to build almost 200 kilometers (125 miles) of a high, metal barrier in the coming months to prevent any illegal crossings from Belarus. Border guards continue to receive backup from Poland's military.

Poland and the EU say the migrant pressure was organized by the government of Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to destabilize the 27-member bloc in retaliation for sanctions that the West introduced after Belarus' 2020 presidential election that it says was rigged.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Sunday it has flown back from Belarus some 4,000 Iraqis who got stuck at the border with Poland. The return flights were organized after pressure from the EU, alarmed by the plight of the migrants stuck in woods in freezing winter weather. At least 12 migrants have died in the border area.

In 2021, Poland's Border Guard registered 39,700 attempts to illegally cross from Belarus.

German federal police say that 11,228 unauthorized entries “with a connection to Belarus” were recorded last year — 5,294 of them in October alone. They say that numbers are continuing to fall.

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Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

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