FILE – Polish security forces block migrants on the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.
Poland is reinforcing security at its border with Belarus, stating that a large group of migrants has been attempting to cross the border in Kuźnica.
Defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak said more than 12,000 soldiers were on duty at the Belarus border and that they were prepared to defend it.
Poland’s interior minister Mariusz Kaminski said that a “tough border defence” was the country’s main priority.
“We have been monitoring the situation in Kuźnica for several days and we are prepared for any scenario,” said Kaminski in a Twitter post.
“We increased the number of Border Guard officers, policemen and soldiers,” he added.
The defence ministry posted a video showing a large group of migrants on the other side of a fence separating the two countries.
Human rights groups have criticised EU governments for pushbacks of migrants on the border with Belarus, where many remain stranded.
The UN refugee agency has implored Belarus and Poland to abide by legal obligations to provide asylum.
“People must be able to exercise their rights where they are, be it in Belarus or in Poland or other EU States where they may be located. This must include the possibility to seek asylum, access to legal aid, information and appropriate accommodation,” said Pascale Moreau, UNHCR’s Regional Director for Europe, in a statement issued at the end of last month.
Poland and EU governments have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately supporting illegal migrants in response to EU sanctions against him.
Last week, Poland summoned Belarus’ chargé d’affaires over “unidentified uniformed individuals armed with long guns” on Polish territory, stating Belarus had escalated the situation.
The country’s senate recently approved a plan to build a wall on its border with Belarus.