Refugee dispute with Belarus: Poland imposes a state of emergency on the border

Status: 02.09.2021 6:41 p.m.

Belarus has been smuggling refugees westwards for weeks. Poland has therefore declared a state of emergency on the border with the neighboring state. Citizens’ right to stay in the area is severely restricted for 30 days.

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has declared a state of emergency on the border with Belarus. The reason given by his spokesman was that more and more migrants from neighboring countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan tried to cross the Green Border into Poland illegally. “The situation there is difficult and dangerous,” he said.

A three-kilometer-wide strip along the border with a total of 183 villages is affected. Meetings and major events are now prohibited there. Access to public information is restricted. Media representatives would have to stay outside the border zone, said the Interior Ministry. Photographing soldiers, border guards and police officers and their equipment is prohibited. From midnight onwards, everyone who is neither privately nor professionally connected to the area would have to leave the border strip.

“Preventing Aggressive Actions”

It is the first time since the political change in Poland in 1989 that the head of state has imposed such a state of emergency. The national conservative government in Warsaw proposed on Tuesday that President Duda should sign a corresponding decree. Parliament now has the option of repealing this.

According to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the order is intended to better ensure the “impermeability” of the border and to prevent “aggressive acts and provocations” emanating from the Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said one of the reasons was the joint military maneuvers that the Russian and Belarusian armies will hold on the border with Poland from September 10th.

Barbed wire on the border

The government in Warsaw accuses Lukashenko of bringing refugees from crisis regions to the EU’s external border in an organized manner. In May, he announced that he wanted to wave massive numbers of migrants and refugees to Poland, Lithuania and Latvia in response to EU sanctions against Minsk.

Both Baltic states had also declared a state of emergency on their borders with Belarus several weeks ago. After Lithuania, Poland has now also started building a two and a half meter high barbed wire fence on its more than 400 kilometers long border with Belarus. According to their own statements, the border protection authorities prevented several thousand crossings in August. Almost a thousand “illegal immigrants” were arrested on the Polish-Belarusian border.

Poland introduces a state of emergency at the border

Jan Pallokat, ARD Warsaw, September 2, 2021 7:47 p.m.

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