Hundreds of migrants trapped in Belarus-Poland stand-off

A man rests with a child at the Belarus-Poland border.

A man rests with a child at the Belarus-Poland border.

Hundreds of desperate migrants were trapped in freezing weather on the border between Belarus and EU and NATO member Poland on Tuesday, with Warsaw accusing the regime in Minsk of using them to threaten European security.

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Western critics have for months said Belarus’s strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko is luring migrants from the Middle East to his country to send them across the border, in retaliation for European sanctions.

Belarus denies the claim and accuses Poland of violating human rights by refusing to allow the migrants in.

The tense situation has raised fears of a confrontation on the border, where armed troops from both countries are deployed.

A defiant Mr. Lukashenko said he was not looking for an armed confrontation but also would not back down.

“We are not seeking a fight... I am not a madman, I understand perfectly well where it can lead,” Mr. Lukashenko said in an interview released by state news agency Belta. “But we will not kneel.” The crisis came to a head on Monday when hundreds of migrants marched to the border in a bid to cross but were blocked by rows of Polish police, soldiers and border guards behind barbed wire.

Poland and Belarus said on Tuesday that between 3,000 to 4,000 migrants were now in an improvised camp on the border, near the Polish village of Kuznica.

Poland said Belarus was using the migrants as a weapon, insisting it would not open its border.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2022 12:01:02 am |