EU neighbors jointly blame Belarus for a surge in illegal immigrants


Warsaw — Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvian leaders gathered on Saturday to accuse Belarus of allowing migrants to cross the border illegally.

“All European Union member states have an obligation to protect their borders and prevent illegal entry,” read a statement from the Polish government released after a video conference of their prime ministers.

In recent weeks, Lithuania has reported a surge in illegal border crossings from Belarus, accusing Minsk of skipping foreign migrants and sending them to the EU.

Earlier this month, Poland accused Belarus of sending immigrants across the border in retaliation for Warsaw’s decision to evacuate to Belarusian athlete Krystsina Zimanuskaya, who refused to return from the Tokyo Olympics.

Belarusian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Polish authorities are facing criticism from human rights groups for not accepting migrants and refusing proper medical care for people at the border.

A reading of the video conference circulated by the Prime Minister of Poland stated that all illegal migrants were properly cared for.

“It is important to emphasize that people who actually cross the border are being cared for in a special place for this purpose,” the statement read.

According to Polish media reports, more than 30 migrants are camping in the woods along the Polish border with Belarus near the village of Uznazh Gurung.

Video from commercial broadcaster TVN showed Polish border guards spreading barbed wire along the border.

The Polish border guard has called on Belarusian authorities three times to intervene, and Belarus said in a tweet released Friday.

Meanwhile, Poland recently flew more than 260 individuals fleeing Afghanistan, Poland’s prime minister, Michal Dworczyk, told PAP news agency on Saturday.

By Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk