Migrants camp overnight at Polish border after tense day

AP , Tuesday 9 Nov 2021

Polish police posted video early Tuesday showing a group of migrants who had camped overnight just on the far side of Poland's eastern border in Belarus.

Migrants in Belarus-Poland border
Migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, Monday, November 8, 2021. AP

Polish riot police and coils of razor wire faced the migrants and police said the situation overnight was calm.

That followed a day of heavy tensions on the border, where a large group of migrants, hundreds if not thousands of people mostly from the Middle East and encouraged by Belarus sought to push their way into Poland.

In videos posted on Twitter, tents and campfires can be seen as the Polish police play an announcement warning the migrants that crossing the Polish border is only allowed at official border crossings.

But as of early Tuesday, the nearest crossing point, in Kuznica, in the northeast of the country, was closed.

The situation marks an escalation in months of migration pressure against Lithuania and Poland, and to a lesser extent Latvia, the three EU states on the bloc's eastern border with Belarus.

The migrants are mostly from Iraq and Syria, though some have come from Africa, seizing on the chance of a new migration route to enter Europe. Most seek to only pass through Poland to reach Germany or other countries in western Europe.

Poland has received strong signals of support and solidarity from the EU and EU member states and the United States as it faces its border crisis.

Germany's outgoing interior minister, Horst Seehofer, said on Tuesday that all EU countries ``must stand together, because (Belarusian President Alexander) Lukashenko is using people's fates with the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin to destabilize the West.'' He called for the European Commission to support Poland in securing the border.

``The Poles have reacted correctly so far,'' Seehofer told German daily Bild of Poland's reinforcement of the border. ``We cannot criticize them for securing the EU's external border with admissible means . the Poles are fulfilling a very important service for the whole of Europe.''

Seehofer's deputy, Stephan Mayer, told Bild that ``Germany could send police very promptly to support Poland if Poland wants that.''

So far Poland's ruling nationalists have refused help from Frontex, the EU's border agency.

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