Poland has completed construction of a new 186-kilometer border wall in a bid to deter migrants entering from Belarus.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and senior security officials traveled to the border area on Thursday to mark the completion of a new 5.5 meter high steel wall.
Poland is also set to lift a state of emergency on Friday that has prevented journalists and rights defenders from entering the border region.
Morawiecki said the new border wall was part of the country’s fight against Russia.
“The first sign of the war in Ukraine was [Belarus President] The attack on Alexander Lukashenko on the Polish border,” he told a press conference.
Authorities in Warsaw believe the Lukashenko regime has used migrants as a tool to spark tensions since 2021, which saw tens of thousands of people, mostly from Iraqi Kurdistan, attempt to enter Poland, Lithuania and Turkey. Latvia from Belarus.
At least 20 people have died between Belarus and Poland in freezing conditions over the past year.
“Double standards” vs “hybrid warfare”
Human rights groups have accused Poland of pulling double standards by taking in millions of Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion, while preventing most Asian refugees from entering via Belarus.
“If you transport a refugee to the Ukrainian border, you are a hero. If you do it at the Belarusian border, you are a smuggler and you risk ending up in prison for eight years,” said Natalia Gebert, founder and CEO of Dom Otwarty, a Polish NGO that helps refugees.
A Human Rights Watch report this month said Poland is “illegally, and sometimes violently, pushing back migrants and asylum seekers to Belarus, where they face serious abuses, including beatings and rapes by border guards and other security forces”.
Amnesty International also detailed serious human rights violations.
Belarus has become a new migration route to Europe after Lukashenko encouraged asylum seekers in Minsk to facilitate their entry into the European Union.
Brussels accused Belarus of waging a “hybrid war” and attempt to destabilize the bloc in retaliation for sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.
Polish government accuses Russia of complicitygiven Lukashenko’s alliance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Lukashenko is the executioner of the latest assault, but this assault has a godfather who is in Moscow, and that godfather is President Putin,” Morawiecki said during an emergency debate in Poland’s parliament in November.