Migrant crisis: EU prepares sanctions against Belarus

Polish soldiers and policemen stand guard at the Poland / Belarus border near Kuznica, Poland on November 11, 2021. via REUTERS - HANDOUT

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The 27 European foreign ministers are meeting this Monday in Brussels to discuss new sanctions against Belarus, while thousands of exiles, whom the EU accuses Minsk of remote control, are still on the border with Poland.

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EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday to expand sanctions on Belarus following its crackdown on opponents of the Lukashenko regime, which has ruled the country for nearly 30 years.

European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said ministers would authorize sanctions against " 

anyone involved in smuggling migrants to Belarus,

 " including airlines, travel agencies and government officials.

According to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, among the measures envisaged is also " 

the complete closure of the border, to cut the regime from economic benefits

 ".

“ 

Lukashenko was wrong.

He believed that by retaliating in this way he was going to twist our arms and have the sanctions canceled.

Quite the opposite is happening, 

”said Josep Borrell to the

Journal du Dimanche

.

Supported by the European Union, Warsaw accuses the Belarusian President of organizing the arrival of migrants at the border.

According to Brussels, he would like revenge for the sanctions that the European Union decided upon following his contested re-election in August 2020. Accusations that Minsk refutes.

Putin says he is ready to help resolve the crisis 

While several countries in the region have warned of the risk of this crisis escalating into an armed confrontation, Vladimir Putin, main ally and supporter of Alexander Lukashenko, said his country was ready to help resolve the crisis. . " 

We are ready to do everything possible if there is something we can do, 

" the Russian president said on Sunday on television, responding to calls for mediation launched last week by Paris and Berlin.

Vladimir Poutine has also rejected the accusations mentioning the possible involvement of Moscow in this crisis, reports our correspondent in the Russian capital,

Jean-Didier Revoin

.

He also clarified that he had not been consulted by his Belarusian counterpart when Alexander Lukashenko threatened to close the Yamal-Europe gas pipeline which carries Russian gas to the old continent.

According to Vladimir Putin, such an action would damage relations between Minsk and Moscow.

With the deployment of 15,000 troops, the Polish border guards continue to block the thousands of migrants from the Middle East who have arrived in Belarus in recent months with the aim of entering the European Union, but who are today stranded at the border with Poland, 

On Sunday morning, Poland said it had arrested dozens of migrants from Belarus. She warned of a possible larger forced passage attempt in the coming days. On Saturday, a group of around 50 people managed to enter Poland at the heavily guarded EU-NATO border near the village of Starzyna. They were arrested and brought back to the border, according to the police. Two hundred and twenty-three attempts to enter Polish territory illegally were counted that same day. Attempts that follow one another like clashes between migrants and border guards. Eleven people have reportedly been killed trying to enter Poland since the start of the migration crisis this summer.

Polish police also reported that a policeman was admitted to hospital after being hit by a stone throw.

Polish security service spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn on Twitter posted reports that trucks brought stones and rubble from Belarusian construction companies to areas near the border.

NGOs evoke an ongoing humanitarian crisis

More than these clashes, the health situation of migrants, victims of the cold and the lack of food or water, worries.

According to a mission dispatched by the World Health Organization (WHO), 60% of them would need medical care.

NGOs cite an ongoing humanitarian crisis with temperatures dropping below zero, and urging de-escalation to help migrants.

According to the authorities, the largest migrant camp, near the Belarusian village of Brouzgi, gathers around 2,000 people, including pregnant women and children.

The Belarusian authorities provided them with aid, tents and heaters.

A measure that could presage a semi-permanent presence at the border.

The Polish Red Cross has not yet been able to directly come to the aid of the migrants, due to the state of emergency declared and the establishment of a secure zone closed to NGOs and the press.

The Polish Red Cross says it sent more than four letters to the Minister of the Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the President, the Prime Minister and the head of protocol of the Polish Parliament to

enter the special area.

“ 

We only received one response: No!

 », Reports Michal Mikolajczyk, member of the management of the Polish Red Cross and voluntary president of the Red Cross in the region of Mazovia at the microphone of our special envoy, 

Romain Lemaresquier

.

Michal Mikolajczyk specifies that the Red Cross is now in contact with the border guards: “

 It seems that they will allow us. The decision is said to be made by the district border guard commander.

 To help people in need, " 

we are appealing for donations to Polish citizens to send money and goods, 

" he adds.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski on Saturday reported a rumor circulating among migrants that Poland would allow them to pass through on Monday and that buses would come from Germany to pick them up.

The Polish government has texted all foreign cellphones along the border, denouncing a lie for the borders to be stormed.

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  • Poland

  • Belarus

  • International Migration

  • European Union

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