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Migrants stuck at Poland-Belarus border facing ‘dire conditions’, says UN migration agency

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By Euronews  with AP
Polish security forces surround migrants stuck along with border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland earlier this month
Polish security forces surround migrants stuck along with border with Belarus in Usnarz Gorny, Poland earlier this month   -   Copyright  Czarek Sokolowski/The Associated Press

The UN migration agency says it is concerned by “dire conditions” facing migrants who have been stranded for weeks at the border between Poland and Belarus.

Poland declared a state of emergency last Thursday due to the movement of migrants over the border it shares with Belarus.

Along with its European Union neighbours who also share a border with Belarus - Lithuania and Latvia - Poland accuses Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of facilitating the flow of illegal immigration into their countries.

Thousands of migrants, many from Iraq and Afghanistan, have been pushed back over the border or detained and put in closed centres.

But a group of around 30 have been stuck at the Poland-Belarus border for weeks, in conditions the International Organization for Migration in Geneva called on Monday “extremely harsh...with limited access to drinking water and food, medical assistance, sanitation facilities and shelter.”

“Prolonging this unacceptable situation poses a grievous threat to the migrants’ lives and health,” the IOM said.

Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted the group are being provided with food and money by Belarusian security services, and are being used to move people illegally into the country.

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia’s leaders have accused the Belarusian regime of an act of “hybrid war” against their countries in revenge for EU sanctions.

The fate of the group has raised concerns also in Poland among some who accuse the government response of being inhumane.

The government actions have included deploying soldiers to the border, reinforcing it with razor wire and refusing to let the stranded group apply for asylum.

Poland’s parliament is due to hold a vote Monday afternoon on whether or not to repeal the state of emergency imposed at the border.

Morawiecki accused the opposition politicians who have protested the government's actions of playing out “a scenario according to plans written in Minsk and Moscow.”

With Russia to begin military exercises later this month, Morawiecki declared that “we have not had such a tense situation for 30 years.”