Fifth Migrant Dies Near Belarus, Another Positive for COVID as Neighbor Nations Deny Entry

A fifth migrant died near Belarus, and another was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19, Polish border guards said, as the European Union members bordering Belarus have denied entry to migrants seeking to cross, the Associated Press reported.

The Iraqi migrants were part of a group detained by Polish authorities late Thursday night, Euronews reported.

Four other migrants have died while crossing or attempting to cross into Poland and Lithuania from Belarus through an area of woods and bogs. According to Polish and Belarusian officials, the four others were found dead at the border on Sunday.

"We are trying to help and save the lives and health of all illegal migrants who have crossed the border into Poland and have been found in time," Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Facebook.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Poland Migrants Border
A fifth migrant has died on the border between Poland and Belarus, Polish officials said. Above, a refugee (center, background) attempts to communicate with an interpreter separated by a police cordon over 300 meters away in Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, eastern Poland, on the border with Belarus, on August 26, 2021. Jaap Arriens/AFP via Getty Images

The Iraqi migrant died despite efforts to revive him. Polish officials have attributed the earlier deaths to hypothermia and exhaustion.

Border guards posted on their Twitter account that one of a group of Iraqi migrants who were apprehended some 500 meters inside Poland from its border with Belarus died of a probable heart attack.

The other migrant was taken to a hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

The plight of the migrants, chiefly from Iraq and Afghanistan, who try reach the EU has caught the attention of human rights organizations.

Two United Nations agencies have requested access to asylum-seekers stranded at Belarus's border with Poland and Lithuania. EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and other officials are planning a visit soon to assess the situation at the border.

Poland's government insists its main task is to guard the frontier against the migrant influx and accuses Belarus' Moscow-backed government of organizing it.

Warsaw has so far rejected EU suggestions that the bloc's border and coast guard agency, Frontex, assists in assist with guarding the border.

Poland's government spokesman, Piotr Mueller, has said that using Frontex would not change the situation.

The Polish and Lithuanian governments have introduced states of emergency on 1 kilometer (0.6 mile)-wide strips along their border with Belarus that deny entry to anyone except border guards, the military and security services. They also are building razor wire fences along their border with Belarus.

Poland and Lithuania have been receiving an unusual number of Middle East and African migrants and refugees arriving from Belarus in recent months. The migrant influx began after Western countries introduced sanctions on Lukashenko's government over the country's disputed August 2020 presidential election and a crackdown on the opposition.