Some 200 migrants attempted to break through a fence on the Polish-Belarus border late on November 24, the Polish Border Guard said, amid continuing tensions at the European Union’s external border.
Brussels has accused Belarus of trying to destabilize the bloc by bringing thousands of men, women, and children from the Middle East and pushing them to cross into the EU through Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Minsk’s action is seen as retaliation for sanctions imposed by the EU on the regime of Alyaksandr Lukashenka following its brutal and sometimes deadly crackdown against protesters who accuse the authoritarian leader of stealing an election in August 2020.
The fresh incident near the village of Czeremcha is part of a series of daily clashes between groups of migrants helped by Belarusian soldiers and Polish border forces.
“They were trying to break through the border, attacking the border,” Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska told the media on November 25. “They were throwing branches and stones and the attempt was stopped by our officers.”
Michalska said the migrants had flattened a section of the fence with logs in their bid to get across. Five migrants have been hospitalized after suffering from exhaustion, she said.
Top EU officials say they’re readying a fifth package of sanctions against Belarus for mounting what it called a “hybrid attack” against the bloc.
As tensions rose, Belarusian authorities last week cleared migrant camps at the border and allowed the first repatriation flight to Iraq in months.
On November 25, the Belarusian Security Council claimed the authorities had detained more than 11,500 illegal migrants this year, with around 5,000 deported from the country.
Security Council head Alyaksandr Volfovich was quoted by Russian news agency RIA Novosti as saying that an Iraqi evacuation flight scheduled for November 25 to fly out migrants had not yet taken place, with around 200 migrants waiting at the airport.