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Refugees wait in desperate conditions at Polish-Belarusian border

A member of a Kurdish family from Dohuk in Iraq holds a paper reading 'I ask for asylum in Poland' as they wait for the border guard patrol, near Narewka, Poland, near the Polish-Belarus border on November 9, 2021 [WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images]
A member of a Kurdish family from Dohuk in Iraq holds a paper reading 'I ask for asylum in Poland' as they wait for the border guard patrol, near Narewka, Poland, near the Polish-Belarus border on November 9, 2021 [WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images]

Thousands of irregular migrants are facing desperate conditions as they continue waiting at the Polish-Belarusian border, hoping to cross onto EU soil.

After crossing the Bruzgi border point in Grodno, Belarus on Monday, the immigrants—most of them from Iraq— came to the Polish border to spend Tuesday night.

Nearly 2,000 immigrants, including many women and children, stayed in tents they set up in front of the border fences in the forested area.

When the temperature drops to freezing during the night, the migrants try to stay warm by burning wood from the forest. There is little food or water.

Polish security forces, keeping vigil across the border during the night with strict security measures, made occasional announcements about migrants being returned to their home countries.

The Belarusian State Border Committee said that the migrants set up camp at the border and took no aggressive actions.

A statement said the migrants' physical condition and morale were bad, and that there was not enough food and water at the camp.

The migrants spent the night on the ground in the cold, including a number of pregnant women and babies in the unhygienic, makeshift camp.

READ: EU accuses Belarus of 'gangster' antics as migrants shiver at Polish border

Belarus' Defence Ministry decried the deployment of 10,000 Polish soldiers at the border, saying that doing this without informing the Belarusian side is a violation of regional security agreements.

Polish government spokesman, Piotr Muller, told the state-run TVP Info on Monday that a special parliamentary session on the situation is needed.

"We have an extraordinary situation on our hands, with another country disrupting the integrity of Poland's borders in an organised manner," Muller said.

Poland and the EU have accused Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, of trying to retaliate for EU sanctions by deliberately inviting in and herding migrants towards the Polish border.

EU countries bordering Belarus—Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland—have been reporting a dramatically growing number of irregular crossings since August.

NATO and the EU consider Belarus' approach towards migrants an effort to destabilise and undermine security in European countries through non-military means.

According to the EU's latest figures, 7,935 people tried to enter the bloc via the Belarus-EU border so far this year, up sharply from just 150 last year.​​​​​​ A total of 4,216 crossed the border into Lithuania, 3,305 into Poland, and 414 into Latvia.

On Monday, Polish authorities stepped up border protection and mobilised over 12,000 troops after a large group of migrants started marching towards the country's frontier with Belarus, accompanied by the Belarusian military.​​​​​​​

READ: How Belarus became gateway to the EU for Middle East migrants

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BelarusEUEurope & RussiaInternational OrganisationsNewsPoland
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