Poland Promises to Defend Border With Belarus, Prevent Migrants From Getting in

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki vowed to defend its border with Belarus and prevent further migrants from crossing into the country, the Associated Press reported.

The defensive effort involves 500 additional troops and eight specialized vehicles being sent to the border this week, according to Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski.

The Polish government said the migrant influx is part of an orchestrated plot by Belarus and Russia against the European Union as the nations seek to destabilize the bloc, AP reported. Morawiecki said during a Monday news conference that Poland is contending with a "well-organized action" from Minsk and Moscow, but he pledged to combat the effort.

"We will defend Poland's border with full determination," Morawiecki said after meeting with the country's interior minister and the head of the Border Guards.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Migrants at Poland Border
Poland's government said Monday that it is sending 500 additional troops and special vehicles to the border with Belarus to strengthen it against increasing migrant pressure that it said is orchestrated by Belarus and Russia. Above, Polish security forces block migrants stuck on the border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, on September 1, 2021. Czarek Sokolowski/AP Photo

EU members Poland and Lithuania are facing increasing migrant pressures on their borders with Belarus, which are part of the bloc's eastern border. They say it is a "hybrid attack" by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime in Minsk to destabilize the 27-nation EU. The border pressure began after Western countries introduced sanctions on Lukashenko's regime for its oppressive measures against the opposition.

Morawiecki noted, however, that necessary medical care will be extended to those migrants who reached Poland.

He said three migrants, including an Iraqi man, who were found dead Sunday close to the Belarusian border died from hypothermia and exhaustion. A detailed autopsy will be carried on the Iraqi, after his companions reported he behaved strangely before his death. Kaminski said at some point, the men were turned back to Belarus by Poland's border guards.

Polish border guards also saw the body of a woman close to the border, on the Belarus side, according to Border Guards chief, General Tomasz Praga.

Morawiecki and Kaminski said migrants from the Middle East and Africa are paying large sums in Belarus ostensibly to be smuggled into Germany, but are being left by Belarusian servicemen in the dense pristine forests and bogs on the border with Poland. They said Belarus has introduced visa-free travel with some Mideast countries that have "great illegal migration potential" to bring in migrants and push them toward Poland and Lithuania.

Morawiecki said a pregnant migrant woman was recently apprehended as she was leading 13 migrant children that were not hers. The children were hospitalized, some of them with COVID-19.

But humanitarian organizations are drawing attention to the plight of the migrants.

Poland and Lithuania are building razor wire fences, have increased border patrols and have introduced a temporary state of emergency along their borders to stop illegal migration but they are also barring reporters and humanitarian groups from the border strip. Poland is to decide at the end of September whether to extend the 30-day state of emergency that was introduced on September 2.

Authorities said there were over 8,000 attempted illegal crossings from Belarus this year, including over 3,800 attempts so far in September.

Poland Vows to Defend Border
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki vowed to defend the country's border with Belarus against a migrant influx by sending additional troops and vehicles to the border. Above, Morawiecki and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (not shown) take part in a press conference after bilateral meetings on September 11, 2021, in Warsaw, Poland. Omar Marques/Getty Images