More migrants are trying to enter Poland from Belarus to East-West Patth – archyde

Migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border

© Reuters/BelTA
Migrant crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border

BRUZGI, Belarus (Reuters) – Poland said Thursday the number of attempts to cross its border from Belarus had increased while thousands of migrants remained trapped in frozen forests at the border in a stalemate between east and west.

The migrants, many of them from Iraq, were not denied entry to Poland or return to Belarus, although some were due to return to Iraq later on Thursday with a maiden flight from the Belarusian capital Minsk.

About 200-300 people, mostly men, but also families with young children, remained huddled around makeshift fires near the Kuznica-Bruzgi border point, said a Reuters reporter on the Belarusian side of the border.

Others had set up a couple of tents and a man could be seen feeding a baby. They were surrounded by Belarusian soldiers with masks, helmets and vests, and a water cannon could be seen on the Polish side.

European countries accuse Minsk of having flown in thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, and pushing them to illegally cross the border in order to punish Europe for the sanctions imposed on pro-democracy protesters for Belarusian crackdowns.

Belarus calls the accusation that it caused the crisis absurd, but says the European Union must lift the sanctions if it is to resolve them.

The Polish border guards tweeted on Thursday that there had been 501 attempts to cross the border on Wednesday, with one group consisting of around 500 people. That was an increase over the previous days.

The Polish Ministry of Defense said one of the attempts was inspired by Belarusian armed forces – a group of around 100 people was stopped by Polish armed forces near Dubicze Cerkiewne. Belarus has previously denied such allegations.

Many Iraqis are among those who camped for weeks on the borders of Belarus to EU countries in order to search for entry and a better life in the wealthy bloc of 27 nations. About 430 Iraqis checked in on Thursday for the return flight from Minsk to Iraq, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said.

(Reporting by Anna Koper, Kacper Pempel, Pawel Florkiewicz, Matthias Williams, Charlotte Bruneau; editing by Ingrid Melander and Timothy Heritage)

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