Poland Records 9,400 Illegal Migration Attempts in 8 Weeks, 1,200 Detained by Authorities

Poland has documented 9,400 attempts to illegally cross into the country from Belarus in eight weeks, with 8,200 of those bids being thwarted by authorities, Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski told reporters Monday.

About 1,200 people who attempted to enter Poland illegally were detained and are being held in detention centers, Kaminski said, according to the Associated Press.

The continuing influx of migrants led Poland to declare a state of emergency along the border and take other tough measures to deter more illegal entry. However, as migrants are reportedly forced to camp on the border for weeks and five migrant deaths were confirmed in the border area, human rights activists are calling Poland's response inhumane.

Advocates called for more humane treatment of the migrants who they say are likely looking to escape from war or poverty in their home countries. They also regard the state of emergency, which permits authorities in the border area to take action without oversight along the border, as unwarranted.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Migrants at Polish Border
Poland has documented 9,400 attempts from illegal immigrants to enter into the country's borders from Belarus since August, with 1,200 being detained by authorities. Above, migrants believed to be from Afghanistan sit on the ground in the small village of Usnarz Gorny near Bialystok, northeastern Poland, close to the border with Belarus, on August 20, 2021. Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images

Poland will seek an extension of the state of emergency in force along its border with Belarus as authorities in Warsaw accused Belarus of provocative actions and alleged that some migrants detained on the border have ties to terrorist groups.

Kaminski presented the findings of Poland's special services, which alleged that the phones of some of the migrants detained show evidence of them having a criminal past, including ties to terrorist organizations, and in some cases longstanding ties to Russia.

The materials "suggest that Russia is emerging as more and more important point on the illegal migratory route to Poland and the European Union. Some of the detainees had photos documenting their long-standing relationship with Russia," a statement from the special services said.

It said the presence of such individuals in Poland "may pose a serious national security threat."

It was not possible to verify the claims.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak accused Belarusian forces of provocative actions, including firing shots into the air and aiming guns at Polish soldiers.

"Incidents are being provoked at the border that may lead to very tense situations," Blaszczak said.

The interior minister said he will recommend that the government prolong the state of emergency along the border. It was declared in early September for a 30 days and Kaminski said he wants to see it extended for another 60 days.

The governments of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia—European Union members on the bloc's eastern border with Belarus—accuse the Moscow-backed regime in Belarus of encouraging illegal migration into their countries by people from the Middle East and Africa in order to sow divisions and chaos within the EU.

Poland has reacted by reinforcing the borders with soldiers and razor wire to stop the attempted entries. Most aim to reach Germany, and some have apparently passed through undetected.

Several activists entered the Warsaw office of the Polish Red Cross on Monday, beginning a sit-in protest as they accuse the organization of doing too little to help the migrants.

Poland Constructs Border Fence
Poland has been constructing razor wire fences along its border with Belarus to curtail migrants from entering the country. Above, Polish soldiers unload materials to construct the fence in Zubrzyca Wielka near Bialystok, eastern Poland, on August 26, 2021. Jaap Arriens/AFP via Getty Images