PICS: Poland Building a Wall as Belarus Orchestrates Surge in Afghan, African, and Middle East Migrants

Poland
WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Poland is following Hungary, Lithuania, and Greece in building a “wall” to stop a surge of predominantly African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian migrants, thought to have been orchestrated by the Lukashenko regime in neighbouring Belarus.

While Hungary led the European Union in slashing illegal immigration through the rapid construction of border fences during the 2015 migrant crisis — earning it the ire of the pro-migration Brussels establishment at the time — Greece, which suffered primary seaborne migrant incursions the same year, did not begin to look at serious defences for its land border until the Turkish regime began driving migrants to the frontier in 2019.

Little Lithuania, an EU border state with a population of under three million, began to suffer similar “hybrid aggression” at the hands of Belarus earlier this year after offering support to the country’s opposition, with Belarusian premier Alexander Lukashenko accused of helping to facilitate the smuggling of mostly Iraqi migrants across the border following flights from the Middle East to Minsk.

Now Poland, another EU member-state bordering Belarus, is increasingly suffering the same problem. It has seen Afghan migrants and other foreign nationals — some allegedly driven to the Polish border at gunpoint, penetrating their territory from Belarus — and the Polish government has responded by announcing that it is constructing a border wall.

“A new 2.5 m high solid fence will be built on the border with Belarus,” announced Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s Minister for National Defence, on social media.

“More soldiers will be involved in helping the Border Guard,” he said, in reference to the military personnel who have already deployed to the Belarusian frontier to support border officers’ efforts to stem the migrant surge.

“Soon I will present details of the further involvement of the Polish Armed Forces,” he added.

Poland

Polish border guards stand behind migrants believed to be from Afghanistan sitting on the ground in the small village of Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, north-eastern Poland, located close to the border with Belarus, on August 20, 2021. The fate of a group of 32 bedraggled migrants stranded at a makeshift encampment on the border between Belarus and Poland for nearly two weeks has sparked a heated debate in Poland. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP) (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Poland

Polish (front) and Belarusian border guards (background) stand next to a group of migrants resting at a makeshift encampment on the border between Belarus and Poland in Usnarz Gorny, near Bialystok, north-east Poland, on August 20, 2021. The sight of the migrants, who are believed to be from Afghanistan, stuck between armed Belarusian officers and Polish soldiers just a few metres away has moved many Poles. (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Photographs from the Polish-Belarusian frontier suggest a tense situation, with one small migrant squatter camp stuck between Polish armed guards on one side, barring their entry to the country, and Belarusian armed guards on the other, barring their return into Lukashenko’s territory, mere feet apart from each other.

Belarus employed similar tactics against Lithuania, following the Baltic state’s announcement that it was closing down its border with an announcement that Belarus, too, was shutting crossings down, so the migrants could not be sent back to it. Warning shots were reportedly fired.

Poland

Polish (foreground) and Belarusian (background) border guards stand next to migrants believed to be from Afghanistan sitting on the ground in the small village of Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, north-eastern Poland, located close to the border with Belarus, on August 20, 2021. (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Poland

Polish border guards (front) stand next to a group of migrants resting at a makeshift encampment on the border between Belarus and Poland in Usnarz Gorny, near Bialystok, north-east Poland, on August 20, 2021. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP) (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Relations between Poland and Belarus have been troubled for decades. As with most countries in Central and Eastern Europe, borders were drawn and redrawn after the world wars and Cold War without scrupulous regard for historic frontiers or the ethnic composition of the polities being created, and Belarus is home to an increasingly harassed Polish minority numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Poland, for its part, has offered support to Lukashenko’s opponents — which includes the Union of Poles in Belarus party, which long been a thorn in the dictator’s side — and recently granted asylum to a Belarusian Olympic sprinter who feared she would be punished by the Belarusian authorities after they tried to summon her back from Tokyo for making remarks critical of the regime.

Poland

An armed Polish border guard (front) and a Belarusian border guard (back R) stand next to a group of migrants resting at a makeshift encampment on the border between Belarus and Poland in Usnarz Gorny, near Bialystok, north-east Poland, on August 20, 2021.(Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

 

Poland

Polish border guards (foreground) stand next to migrants believed to be from Afghanistan in the small village of Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, north-eastern Poland, located close to the border with Belarus, on August 20, 2021. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP) (Photo by WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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