Brussels (Brussels Morning) Warsaw reported on Tuesday that several groups of migrants have made new attempts to cross the border from Belarus into Poland, despite Minsk having cleared the migrant camps last week.
According to Polish Border Guard spokesperson Anna Michalska, some 50 migrants made an attempt to cross the border on Monday evening, 18 of them having managed briefly to get past the barbed wire barrier. A second group, also numbering around 50, gathered to attempt a crossing at another location, but ultimately gave up.
The Polish government claims that the latest incidents show that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has not given up on his plans to use migrants in a form of hybrid warfare directed at Poland and Lithuania, as part of his reprisal campaign for EU sanctions against his regime.
Belarus reportedly cleared migrant camps near the Polish border last week, and allowed the first repatriation flight ferrying migrants back to Iraq. According to the Belarus Ministry of the Interior, around 120 migrants left the country on Monday, and more were set to follow on Tuesday.
According to Polish authorities, more than 10,000 migrants from the Middle East could still be in Belarus, their continuing presence threatening further pressure on EU borders. “The tactics and the methods are changing and perhaps the new wave will be less spectacular…but this does not mean the situation is calming down”, Stanislaw Zaryn, spokesperson for Poland’s special services, declared.
Neighbouring Lithuania echoes Poland’s fears about the remaining migrants. “The situation is stable but it remains tense…it will remain complicated for a long time”, Lithuania’s presidential national security adviser, Darius Kuliesius, said.
Lithuania and Poland insist the humanitarian crisis was engineered by Lukashenko, with Belarus handing out tourist visas to potential Middle Eastern migrants, and paying for their trips, a charge that Lukashenko flatly denies.