Belarus border: Poland asks for emergency order amid wave of asylum seekers | Migration News

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Belarus border: Poland asks for emergency order amid wave of asylum seekers |  Migration News

A state of emergency would give authorities wider powers to monitor and control people’s movements.

The Polish government on Tuesday asked the president to declare a state of emergency in two regions on the border with Belarus after the Polish border guard said there had been hundreds of illegal border crossings this month.

Poland started building a barbed wire fence along the border last week in an effort to curb the flow of asylum seekers from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan crossing from Belarus.

A state of emergency would give authorities wider powers to monitor and control people’s movements.

President Andrzej Duda, a close ally of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), is likely to approve a state of emergency, which will last for 30 days and cover parts of the Podlaskie and Lubelskie regions.

“The situation on the border with Belarus is a crisis and is still tense,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told a news conference when he announced the move.

Relations between the European Union and Belarus have deteriorated sharply in the past year since President Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in an election that his opponents and Western countries believe had been rigged.

Boundary signs are depicted at the Polish-Belarusian border near the village of Usnarz Gorny, Poland, August 23 [Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

The EU has imposed economic sanctions on Belarus and accused Lukashenko of deliberately encouraging asylum seekers to illegally enter Poland and the Baltic states of Latvia and Lithuania in a form of “hybrid warfare”.

“The Lukashenko regime decided to push these people into Polish, Lithuanian and Latvian territory in an attempt to destabilize them,” Morawiecki said.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said the planned state of emergency will mainly apply to areas on or near the border.

Poland also sees Belarus’ behavior as retaliation for Warsaw’s decision to host Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics. Minsk did not respond to requests for comment.

The Polish authorities have faced criticism from human rights groups for not accepting asylum seekers and denying people adequate medical care to people at the border. Warsaw says they are the responsibility of the Belarusian authorities.

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