From ‘Berlin Wall’ to ‘Belarus Fence’: Poland, Lithuania to Build Anti-Migrant Fence to Deal with ‘Hybrid Threat’

Written by | Saturday, August 28th, 2021

Poland has become the latest European country to start building an anti-refugee wall, with a new fence on its border with Belarus, to halt a flow of migrants the European Union. The 2.5-metre high wall would be modeled on one built by Hungary on its border with Serbia in 2015, and the number of troops along the border will be doubled, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said. Warsaw says allowing the migrants to enter Polish territory would encourage further irregular migration. This latest step by Poland comes after the country and its fellow EU states Lithuania and Latvia have reported sharp increases in migrants from countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan trying to cross their borders. Thousands of migrants have crossed the border from Belarus into these eastern EU states in recent months. The EU accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of waging “hybrid warfare”, in retaliation for EU sanctions, with migrants to exert pressure on the bloc.
But Poland’s government has come under sharp criticism from human rights advocates over the plight of a group of migrants trapped for two weeks in the open between Polish and Belarusian border guards. But Polish government defends its policy, with Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz saying that “these are not refugees, they are economic migrants brought in by the Belarusian government.” Also the UN refugee agency is urging Poland to take in a group of migrants believed to be from Iraq and Afghanistan who have been stranded on the border with Belarus for more than two weeks.“While we acknowledge the challenges posed by recent arrivals to Poland, we call on the Polish authorities to provide access to territory, immediate medical assistance, legal advice, and psychosocial support to these people,” Christine Goyer, the UNHCR’s representative in Poland, said on Tuesday (24 August).
Belarus is becoming ever more troublesome for Europe, especially for its immediate EU neighbours, writes Andreas Rogal in The Parliament Magazine. MEP and former Lithuanian Minister of Defence, Rasa Juknevi?ien? explained to the Parliament Magazine that Lukashenko’s regime was also “implementing an information war and spreading various lies about illegal immigrants”, warning that “this is not migration as usual as we witnessed in 2015. In my opinion, the Kremlin is behind it, and is observing how we will manage this situation”. Moreover, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki, Lithuania’s Ingrida Šimonyt?, Latvia’s Arturs Krišj?nis Kari?š and Estonia’s Kaja Kallas — the latter two prominent former MEPs –- warned “using immigrants to destabilize neighbouring countries constitutes a clear breach of international law and qualifies as a hybrid attack against Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and thus against the entire European Union.”They argue that while the protection of the external EU border is a “duty” for member states, it is also the “common responsibility of the EU, and that “proper political attention should be paid to it on the EU level and sufficient funding allocated”.

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