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Poland close to approving €350m border wall to stop migrant crossings from Belarus

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By Euronews with AFP
Polish police officers stop vehicles near the Belarusian border.
Polish police officers stop vehicles near the Belarusian border.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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Poland is planning to build a border wall costing more than €350 million to prevent migrants illegally entering from Belarus.

A draft bill to construct the new border wall was approved by the lower house of the Polish parliament on Thursday. It had been backed a day earlier by the country's ruling conservative government.

The bill will now head to the opposition-dominated Senate for a second vote.

The cost of building the new border wall is estimated at over 1.6 billion zlotys (€353 million).

According to the proposed bill, Poland will also install movement detectors at the Belarusian border, preventing anyone from coming within 200 metres of the wall.

"The number of attempts to cross the border is on the rise," the Polish government said on Wednesday.

Since August, thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have tried to cross the Polish border from Belarus.

The European Union has accused Minsk of deliberately orchestrating the influx of migrants in retaliation against EU sanctions.

Poland has already sent thousands of soldiers to the border while declaring a state of emergency in the region.

Last week, Warsaw asked the European Union to fund border "fences" to prevent migrants from entering the bloc.

But Poland has also been accused by humanitarian organisations of illegally pushing back asylum-seekers into Belarus.

On Thursday, police said that they found the body of a Syrian migrant near the border, bringing the total number of fatalities to at least seven.

Poland's Foreign Ministry has summoned Belarusian charge d'affaires Alexander Chesnovski over the situation at the border.