Polish troops use water cannons against stone-throwing migrants
Warsaw – Polish border forces said on Wednesday they were attacked with stones by migrants on the border with Belarus and responded with water cannons against them.
Border Patrol Agency published Video on Twitter A water cannon is shown across the border at a group of migrants in a makeshift camp.
Polish police said an officer was seriously injured when the migrants threw objects. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital with his skull likely fractured after being hit by an object.
The situation represents an escalation in a tense migration crisis and political borders with the lives of thousands of migrants at risk.
The border is also part of the European Union’s eastern border, and the European Union accuses the authoritarian regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating a migration crisis at the border to put pressure on the bloc.
There is now a large number of migrants at the border, with migrants stuck in a makeshift camp with temperatures dropping to freezing at night. Most are fleeing conflict, poverty or despair in Syria and Iraq and hope to reach Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe. So far there have been reports of 11 deaths.
The Polish Defense Ministry said its soldiers and other border forces were attacked with stones and other things.
The ministry also said that Belarusian forces tried to destroy the fence along the country’s common border, while the Interior Ministry Post the video It appears that migrants are trying to tear down the fence.
Poland took a tough line, fortifying the border with police and riot police, expelling coils of barbed wire and planning to build a tall steel fence. The Polish approach has been largely approved by the West, with other EU countries keen to stem the arrival of yet another wave of immigration.
However, the Polish authorities have been criticized for sending migrants back across the border and not allowing them to apply for asylum.
On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the actions of Polish forces as “totally unacceptable”. Lavrov accused the Polish forces of “violating all conceivable rules of international humanitarian law and other conventions of the international community.”
Polish officials have often said that Russia bears some responsibility for the crisis on the border due to Moscow’s alliance with Belarus. The Russian government denied responsibility.
There was no way to independently verify what was happening because the state of emergency in Poland keeps reporters and human rights workers away from the border area. Journalists in Belarus face severe restrictions on their ability to write as well, with only a few at the border.
At one point on Tuesday, the independent television channel, TVN24, had to rely on CNN to show an image of the border that had not been filtered through government authorities.
The Polish parliament is expected on Tuesday to adopt a legislative proposal regulating the ability of citizens to move around the border area with Belarus after the state of emergency ends at the end of this month.
A state of emergency was imposed at the beginning of September as a large number of migrants from the Middle East sought to cross into Poland from Belarus.
The European Union is putting pressure on airlines to stop transporting Syrians, Iraqis and others to Belarus.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government is urging its citizens trapped at the border to return home.
An embassy spokesman told Interfax on Tuesday that about 200 Iraqi citizens who arrived in Belarus with the intention of crossing into the European Union contacted the Iraqi embassy in Russia and expressed their desire to return to their homeland.
The spokesman added that an evacuation flight will start on Thursday and that all those wishing to return to Iraq are already in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, waiting for the flight. The diplomat told Interfax that there were no problems with the transfer of migrants from the border to Minsk, and that the Belarusian authorities provided all necessary assistance.
With the crisis on the Polish border, the Polish National Bank announced on Monday that it will issue a coin and banknotes to collectors dedicated to “the defense of Poland’s eastern borders”.
Litvinova reported from Moscow.
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