Over the past two days, 133 people have been arrested on Belarus’ border with Poland, up from 122 throughout the last year, according to Polish authorities.
Poland and Lithuania have called on EU institutions to help them cope with an influx of migrants crossing their borders from Belarus, as tensions between EU countries and Minsk continue to grow.
The Belarusian border protection agency said on Friday it had tightened controls along its border with Lithuania to prevent Lithuanian authorities from returning migrants to Belarus.
Poland on Thursday accused Belarus of sending increasing numbers of migrants across the border in retaliation for Warsaw’s decision this week to give refuge to Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home after the Tokyo Olympics.
“We condemn the militarization of irregular migration by the Lukashenko regime with the aim of exerting political pressure on the EU and its member states,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in a statement. joint statement.
In the past two days alone, 133 people have been arrested on Belarus’ border with Poland, up from 122 in the last year, a spokesperson for Polish border guards said.
In recent weeks, Lithuania has also reported an increase in border crossings from Belarus and said Minsk carries migrants from abroad and sends them to the EU.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday accused Lithuania and Poland of fueling the problem of migrants at the border.
In the statement, Poland and Lithuania called on the European Commission, Frontex, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), other EU member states and non-EU partners to political and practical support and called for strengthening EU migration and asylum policy.
“We firmly believe that protecting the Schengen external borders is not only the duty of individual Member States but also the common responsibility of the EU,” the statement said.
EU calls for meeting
EU interior ministers and representatives of the European border agency Frontex and Europol are expected to discuss the issue next week.
Slovenia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said the talks would take place by video conference on August 18, as part of a crisis response mechanism.
The interior ministers of the 27 Member States as well as representatives of the border guard agency Frontex, EASO and Europol are invited.
“With the situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, the EU faces a serious threat to its security and is witnessing state-sponsored militarization of illegal migration in Belarus,” a spokesperson for Belarus said. the Slovenian Presidency of the EU.