Belarus accuses Poland of pushing migrants back across border

The Belarusian Border Guard has accused Poland of using push-back-like tactics to drive migrants back across the Polish-Belarusian border.

Push backs are a set of measures by which refugees and migrants are forced back over a border without consideration to their circumstances. They violate international laws including the prohibition on collective expulsions stipulated in the European Convention on Human Rights.

"There is a network of organisers of illegal migration operating on Polish territory and Polish border guards forcibly throw migrants into Belarus," the Belarusian State Border Committee (GPK) said in a statement on Friday.

It further claimed that the Polish Border Guard officers "are erecting fences, forcibly pushing or simply throwing unconscious people onto the territory of Belarus".

The Polish government has maintained that its Border Guard and troops on the Belarusian border are operating within the law despite what it describes as numerous "provocations" by Belarusian security forces.

Poland, along with the Baltic States, have accused Belarus of deliberately flying migrants to Belarus and then pushing them across the borders with EU states in an attempt to destabilise the bloc.

In turn, Belarus has denied these accusations. Recently, Alexander Lukashenko claimed that while there are people in Belarus who are migrant trafficking they are citizens of other countries.

But the border services of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have repeatedly reported that migrants are receiving support from Belarusian officials, or are forced by them to enter the territory of EU countries.

Meanwhile, the Polish Border Guard announced that, on Thursday alone, it had recorded 529 attempts to illegally cross the Polish-Belarusian border, and detained 18 Iraqi migrants and four people for aiding them. These were citizens of Lebanon and Poland, and two Ukrainians.

Since August, the Polish Border Guard has thwarted over 10,000 illegal attempts to cross the Polish-Belarusian border, and 1,500 migrants have been detained and taken to refugee centres.

On Thursday evening, Poland extended a state of emergency along its eastern border, introduced for 30 days on September 2, for another 60 days. 

Welcome to The First News weekly newsletter

Every Friday catch up on our editor’s top pick of news about Poland, including politics, business, life and culture. To receive your free email subscription, sign up today.