Illegal Immigrants Trying to Cross Polish-Belarusian Border Increased, Officials Say

By Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
Lorenz Duchamps
November 18, 2021 Updated: November 18, 2021

The number of illegal immigrants trying to cross the Polish-Belarusian border in an attempt to enter the European Union has increased, according to Polish authorities.

Poland’s border guard wrote on Twitter on Nov. 18 that there had been 501 attempts to cross the border the previous day, with one group consisting of around 500 people. That was an increase from previous days.

The increase came a day after Poland said hundreds of illegal immigrants camped near the border were moved to a nearby warehouse in Belarusian territory, according to Nov. 17 reports. Thousands of others remain on the frontier.

Many of the illegal immigrants, mostly from Iraq, who remain at the border have been barred either from entering Poland or returning to Belarus. A large group of migrants returned to Iraq on Nov. 18 on the first flight from the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Poland’s ministry of defense has also accused Belarusian forces of leading an attack by illegal immigrants stationed in Dubicze Cerkiewne in the northeast of the country on Nov. 17.

The attack led to 12 injuries, including seven Polish police officers, and about 100 arrests after people at the Belarusian side started throwing stones at Polish forces massed on their side of a wire-fenced barrier installed by troops earlier this year. Poland said Belarusians made contact first while also accusing them of damaging the barrier.

Video footage released by Polish authorities showed illegal immigrants using sticks to try to break through the barrier. They also threw bottles and logs across the border fence.

“Belarusian services first made a reconnaissance. Most likely they damaged the fence,” the defense ministry wrote on social media. “Then, Belarusians forced the migrants to throw stones at Polish soldiers to distract them. An attempt to cross the border took place several hundred meters away.”

European leaders accuse Belarus of mounting “a hybrid attack” by flying in migrants from countries such as Syria and Afghanistan and pushing them to cross illegally into EU member Poland. Minsk has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Since the beginning of this year, border guard authorities in Poland have recorded more than 34,000 attempts by migrants to illegally cross the Polish-Belarusian border. In August, the border guard stated that illegal border crossings had reached record heights.

Epoch Times Photo
In this photograph released by the Territorial Defence Forces, Polish soldiers and police watch illegal immigrants at the Poland/Belarus border near Kuznica, Poland, on Nov. 12, 2021. (Irek Dorozanski/DWOT/Handout via Reuters)

Lithuania and Latvia, which like Poland are members of NATO and the EU, have also reported a sharp increase in attempts to cross from Belarus since summer.

Meanwhile, Estonian authorities on Nov. 17 deployed more than 1,600 reserve military units in an unannounced exercise while also installing a temporary barrier in border areas that have “previously been used by organized crime to facilitate illegal migration.”

“What is happening in Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia also requires the strengthening of the border infrastructure in Estonia,” said Chief of Police and border guard Elmar Vaher.

Reuters contributed to this report.

From NTD News