Poland's defense minister has announced that Poland will erect a fence on the border between Poland and Belarus (formerly Belarus) to stop the influx of migrants. Poland says Belarus is sending more migrants to EU countries in revenge for sanctions imposed.
Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have reported sharp increases in the number of migrants from Iraq and Afghanistan trying to cross their borders. According to the European Union, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko would wage a “hybrid war” with migrants to put pressure on EU countries.
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak has announced that a new fence will be placed on the border with Belarus. According to Blaszczak, this fence will be 2,5 meters high. The military presence on the border will also be increased.
“It is necessary to increase the number of soldiers. We will soon double the number of soldiers to 2.000.” – Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak
Lithuania will follow
Lithuania is also going to put a fence on the 508 kilometer long Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Even if it will take until September next year for this fence to be completed.
“The physical blockade is vital for us to avert this hybrid attack. The Belarusian regime is carrying out this attack against Lithuania and the EU.” – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte
The Lithuanian fence will be three meters high with barbed wire on it. According to the Lithuanian government, the fence will cost at least 152 million euros. That is a low amount, certainly because it concerns the security of their country and indirectly the security and integrity of countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.
According to figures from the Lithuanian government a total of 4.141 illegal immigrants have entered, of which 4.130 (99,7 percent) have entered over the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.
According to these figures, 2,800 (68 percent) of illegal immigrants say they come from Iraq and 83 (2 percent) from Afghanistan.
In July alone, 2.366 illegal immigrants had been detained, a sharp increase from 473 in June. And certainly compared to the total number of illegal immigrants last year, which was then 81.
Lithuanian authorities believe that most of the people trying to enter the country traveled to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on one of four weekly flights from Iraq carrying up to 500 passengers on Boeing 747s. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis visited Baghdad this month for talks with Iraqi officials.
Lithuania says the influx is an act of retaliation by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Since the authoritarian leader's re-election to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that was labeled rigged by the West, he has cracked down on opposition protests in his country. His main opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, fled to Lithuania under pressure.
The Lithuanian army will arrive at the border this week to guard the detention centers and the border.
Tensions are rising in the border region, both among local residents and among detained migrants. Violent protests erupted in Lithuania's Salcininkai district this week as locals blocked roads and burned tires while opposing government plans to establish new immigration detention centers nearby. Police used tear gas to disperse crowds and arrested eight protesters. Two officers were injured.
Meanwhile, a riot broke out Monday at an abandoned school that was repurposed as a detention center, where some 150 migrants have been held for several weeks. The migrants refused to eat and several dozen climbed on the roof and started destroying the building, police said. The protest ended without serious injuries, police said.