Sunday, November 28

Escape route via Belarus: focus on the German-Polish border

Status: 10/24/2021 10:25 a.m.

More and more migrants enter the country via Belarus and Poland. Interior Minister Seehofer again assured intensive surveillance of the German-Polish border. The police stopped right-wing extremists who wanted to patrol themselves.

For weeks, more and more migrants have been stranded in Poland after crossing the border from Belarus. In Germany, too, more and more refugees are arriving via this route. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer is therefore focusing on intensive protection of the German-Polish border.

So far, the border guard has been reinforced with eight hundred federal police, said the CSU politician of “Bild am Sonntag”:

If necessary, I am ready to step up there even further. We will closely control the border area and the green border with Poland.

Border controls remain an option

Seehofer also did not rule out the introduction of border controls. “If the situation on the German-Polish border does not relax, it must also be considered whether this step has to be taken in coordination with Poland and the state of Brandenburg,” he said in a newspaper interview.

In the middle of the week, the German and Polish governments had already agreed to cooperate more closely in order to limit “irregular migration”, as Seehofer put it. For the time being, however, he refrained from border controls; instead, more intensive patrols were agreed by emergency services from both countries.

Seehofer justified the decision against border controls with legal concerns. Actually, there should be no such controls between the member states of the Schengen area. In exceptional cases, however, they can be introduced, such as during the corona pandemic, in order to contain the spread of the virus across national borders as far as possible.

Prominent protest

The EU accuses Belarus and its ruler, Alexander Lukashenko, of allowing refugees to enter their own country in a targeted and organized manner in order to bring them from there to the EU’s external border in Poland. Many of the migrants are stranded in the Polish-Belarusian border area and have to stay there. The Polish government imposed a state of emergency because of the increasing number of refugees and secured the border with Belarus with barbed wire and around 6,000 soldiers. Journalists and aid organizations have no access to the border area.

In protest against the precarious supply situation for migrants, women in particular demonstrated in front of the local headquarters of the Polish border guard in the eastern town of Michalowo on Saturday under the motto “Mothers on the border”. The wives of three former Polish presidents also took part in the event. “We particularly reject the inhumane treatment of children,” said Anna Komorowska. Her husband Bronisław Komorowski held the post of head of state for five years from 2010. Jolanta Kwasniewska, wife of Aleksander Kwaśniewski, also took part in the protest, as did Danuta Walesa, married to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa.

Jolanta Kwasniewska (right) and Anna Komorowska (left), both wives of former Polish presidents, took to the streets against the poor care for refugee children in the border area.

Image: EPA

EU is considering further sanctions

Lukashenko had already announced in May that he would use the unhindered onward journey of migrants to the EU as a means of pressure after the EU had imposed several sanctions on Belarus. At the beginning of June, the EU countries agreed to block their own airspace for Belarusian air traffic. Shortly thereafter, punitive measures against the Belarusian economy followed. Further sanctions were also under discussion at the most recent EU summit: for example, against airlines whose planes bring refugees from crisis regions to Belarus. Federal Interior Minister Seehofer had also spoken out in favor of additional punitive measures, as did Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, in order to send a clear signal against “this type of human trafficking by the state”.

Smugglers stopped in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Since the beginning of October, the Federal Police reported around 3750 unauthorized border crossings to Germany with a connection to Belarus. This means that the number has risen to a total of more than 6100 since the beginning of the year.

On Saturday, the police in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania stopped a van in which the officers discovered 31 refugees from Iraq, including children. All migrants are from Iraq, again Ed reported. Some of them were in poor health.

The chairman of the Greens, Robert Habeck, spoke out in favor of EU-wide admission of refugees coming to Poland from Belarus. It is important to stand by Poland, he told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”: “And we have to remind people that humanitarian standards must be adhered to.” Belarus has a “smuggler as president,” said Habeck, referring to the Belarusian ruler Lukashenko. The EU must not give in to the attempted “blackmail” by Belarus.

Police take action against right-wing extremists

Numerous refugees also come to Germany across the border between Poland and Brandenburg. In this context, the right-wing extremist micro-party “The Third Way” called on its supporters to so-called border crossings in order to prevent migrants from crossing the border. Last night, the police in the Guben area took action against several groups who had apparently followed the call. Some of them had batons and pepper spray with them, and the officers also seized a bayonet and a machete. Some of the people apprehended came from the immediate vicinity, but many had also come from other federal states. The police announced further patrols in the border area.

Several Brandenburg initiatives have been protesting against these border crossings with a vigil since Saturday. The action should last a total of 24 hours. “We do not want to leave the region to the neo-Nazis. We want to set an example that asylum is and will remain a human right,” said a message from the organizers. According to the police, around 120 participants were present at the beginning of the vigil, and there were around 25 during the night.

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