Interior min wants emergency state at border with Belarus prolonged

Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Poland’s interior minister has said he wants to extend the state of emergency covering areas bordering Belarus owing to the large number of migrants trying to illegally enter Poland.

A state of emergency has been in force since September 2 in the parts of Podlaskie and Lubelskie provinces which are adjacent to the border. It was originally planned to last 30 days, but that time limit could now be lengthened.

"I will motion for the prolongation of the state of emergency by 60 days," Mariusz Kaminski told reporters on Monday.

"Since August, about 9,400 illegal border-crossing attempts have been recorded on the Polish-Belarusian frontier," he said.

"A total of 8,200 attempts have been aborted on the border while some 1,200 illegal migrants have been placed in guarded centres," he continued, adding that some of them had either no identity documents or carried fake ones.

Stressing that the situation on the border was very tense, Kaminski said that many provocative incidents carried out by the Belarusian security services had also been reported.

"We have been dealing with a very serious situation," Kaminski said, explaining that he was talking about "mass-scale, politically-motivated illegal migration" and not about single migrants.

"The people, who are trying to cross the border, were not in any danger in Belarus and have been legally staying in that country," the interior minister said.

A spokesperson for the minister said that the identities of several hundred of illegal migrants have already been established.

"Some of them pose a threat to Poland, including people who have links with terrorist and armed organisations as well as those with criminal records," said Stanislaw Zaryn.

"Twenty percent of the detained migrants have links with the Russian Federation. One person is connected with the Islamic State," Zaryn added.

Under the state of emergency decree journalists are barred from reporting from the area as well as taking pictures and video of border infrastructure.