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Influx in migrant crossings at Poland-Belarus border raises concerns in Germany

Migrants in the Polish forest
Migrants in the Polish forest Copyright Euronews
Copyright Euronews
By Magdalena Chodownik
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A recent increase in the number of migrants from Africa and the Middle East attempting to enter Poland has sparked concerns in neighbouring Germany – causing some to call for a reintroduction of controls along the countries' shared border.

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Some regions in Germany have called for the reintroduction of controls along the country's border with Poland because of a growing number of migrants trying to enter the country. 

The concerns were raised in Brandenburg and Saxony after Polish border guards observed more irregular border crossing attempts along its border with Belarus. 

But a spokesperson for the Polish Border Guards stressed that migrants who enter the EU come not only through Poland but also through Baltic countries.

"The migrants mentioned by the German side have come via Belarus or Russia and still have recently issued Russian visas," says Anna Michalska, a Polish Border Guards' spokesperson.

"We also have information from the Latvian side, from the Lithuanian side, that many people who illegally crossed the border from Belarus were in open centres for foreigners. This year, we have stopped twice as many [migrants] at the Polish-Lithuanian border than a year ago."

Volunteers help vulnerable migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border

Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
FILE - A Polish border guard patrols the area of a newly built metal wall on the border between Poland and Belarus, near Kuznice, Poland, Thursday, June 30, 2022Michal Dyjuk/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved

With the increase of migrants along the Polish-Belarusian border, humanitarian groups are also nearby. Michal Wolny is one of the volunteers helping people on the ground. 

"At present, especially after winter, there is an intensification of this movement on the Polish-Belarusian border. In the spring, there are simply a lot more interventions," says Wolny.  

Migrants along the border,  most of whom are from Bangladesh, India, Eritrea and Ethiopia, are often met with force.

"Our [volunteer] group has had four such interventions in the last 24 hours. You can also see the increased brutalisation on the part of the border guards of both countries, resulting in a greater number of injuries among refugees." 

Risks faced by migrants trying to cross borders

Some migrants are forced to try to scale Poland's border wall or cross through dangerous rivers and swamps to enter the country. 

One woman from Cameroon told Euronews that their original goal is to reach France. 

"From my country, we took a plane till Russia because [to get] a direct visa for France, it's not really easy to get in our country, so therefore, we take all the possible roads to get there, and with all the possible risks."

After crossing the border on foot, many stay in Poland's forests in harsh conditions for days.

"I left my country because there is a war and no stability. We are looking for a better life," a male migrant from Cameroon says.

Despite the wall that Poland has built along the border, the migrant route through Russia and Belarus is still operational, and it doesn't seem that this situation will come to an end soon.

Additional sources • Mario Bowden

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