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Poland limits access to Belarus border amid migrant crisis

01.12.2021 10:00
Poland's interior minister has issued a decree that forbids entry to towns and villages along the country's border with Belarus amid a simmering migrant crisis. 
Polands Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński.
Poland's Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński.PAP/Albert Zawada

Mariusz Kamiński made the move after President Andrzej Duda on Tuesday signed into effect a government plan to strengthen Poland's borders in an effort to fend off an influx of migrants from the Middle East, public broadcaster Polish Radio's IAR news agency reported. 

Under the ministerial decree, which took effect at midnight on Wednesday and will remain in force until March 1, there will be restrictions on access to 115 towns and villages in Poland's eastern Podlaskie province as well as 68 towns and villages in the neighbouring Lubelskie province.  

The entry ban will not apply to those who live, work, do business, cultivate land, own real estate, visit healthcare facilities, use border crossings or participate in religious ceremonies in the area. Ambulance crews, state officials and military personnel are also excluded from the restrictions.

In addition, border authorities will have the right to exempt selected individuals, including journalists, from the entry ban.

The Polish interior minister has also issued two further decrees, banning the carrying of weapons in the border zone and allowing border personnel to use a range of devices including tear gas guns to control riots, the IAR news agency reported.

Border crisis

The initiative comes amid turmoil on Poland's eastern border with Belarus, where thousands of migrants have gathered in recent weeks in an attempt to cross illegally into the EU from the former Soviet republic.

The months-long migrant crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border has escalated in recent weeks, with Poland, the European Union and its member states, as well as NATO and the United States accusing Belarus' strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the standoff in retaliation for Western sanctions against his regime.

The new rules approved by the Polish president replace a state of emergency that the authorities declared and then extended in the border zone in the face of the migrant pressure.


Source: IAR