WARSAW – An Iraqi migrant died after crossing into Poland from Belarus, Polish officials said on Friday, the fifth such death in the border area in the past week amid a surge in illegal migration across the European Union’s eastern frontier.
Poland, Lithuania and the EU have accused Belarus of encouraging migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, to cross the borders as a form of pressure on the bloc over sanctions Brussels has imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses.
“Last night a group of immigrants from Iraq was detained 500 meters from the border with Belarus. One of the men, despite having been resuscitated by a patrol and an ambulance team, died (probably of a heart attack),” the Polish Border Guard said on Twitter.
“Another person, who tested positive for COVID-19, is in hospital,” it added.
Polish officials announced on Monday the deaths of three people just inside Poland, while a fourth person was found dead on the Belarusian side of the border. Authorities in both countries did not say how the four people had died.
“We try 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 wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.
The Polish Border Guard reported more than 3,500 attempts to cross the border illegally from Belarus in August. As of Friday more than 5,000 attempts had been recorded since the start of September.
U.N. Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet urged Belarus’s neighbours on Friday to protect people seeking asylum in Europe.