Local government officials call on PM to aid migrants

Tadeusz Truskolaski, mayor of the eastern city of Białystok, representing the Union of Polish Metropolises, said: "For four years we have been calling on the government, above all to work out a migration policy and to include us, local governments, in the aid. Artur Reszko/PAP

A group of local government representatives have appealed to the Polish prime minister to include them in migration policy planning in order to help migrants stuck at Poland's border with Belarus.

Poland has been tackling a migration crisis on its border with Belarus, accusing Minsk of luring Middle Eastern, Asian and African migrants to the area with the promise of passage to the EU.

Warsaw maintains that Belarus's Alexander Lukashenko regime has deliberately engineered the crisis in an attempt to destabilise the EU.

Areas adjacent to the border area where migrants have gathered have been under a state of emergency since September 2.

Representative of the Association of Polish Towns and the Union of Polish Metropolises signed the appeal to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday.

"In the face of crisis situations, local governments have always shown solidarity in granting help," the appeal read. "Equally now we cannot remain indifferent to the tragedy of people whose life and health is threatened, who are forced to live in extremely difficult conditions at the Polish border."

Tadeusz Truskolaski, mayor of the eastern city of Bialłystok, representing the Union of Polish Metropolises, said: "For four years we have been calling on the government, above all to work out a migration policy and to include us, local governments, in the aid.

"We can ensure housing, we can ensure shelter for those people, but the government must simply want to work with us. As long as that is not done, we have what we have, people are dying in the forest," he added.

Jacek Karnowski, the mayor of the coastal city of Sopot, said the group also wanted to appeal to other local governments nationwide to help people without a roof over their heads, including women and children, "thrown around like a ball between the Belarusian and Polish border guards," just as they would offer help in any other "terrible humanitarian disaster."