A man outside the 'Bruzgi' logistics center turned makeshift migrant reception facility in Belarus | Photo: Maxim Shemetov/REUTERS
A man outside the 'Bruzgi' logistics center turned makeshift migrant reception facility in Belarus | Photo: Maxim Shemetov/REUTERS

The number of migrants trying to reach Poland from Belarus is on the rise. Polish authorities said on Tuesday that 134 people had attempted to cross the border over the previous 24 hours – a 'record this year'.

A video posted by the Polish Border Guard on Wednesday (March 23) shows sections of the new solid metal fence on the Belarusian border. The 186 kilometer long barrier, due for completion in June, will be topped with barbed wire, it says.

The video comes as Polish border authorities announced that the number of migrants attempting to enter Poland from neighboring Belarus is increasing again. On Tuesday they said 134 people had tried to cross the border within 24 hours. 

A statement from the Border Guard said the migrants were from Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Turkey and Cuba.

They said eight other people – an Italian, three Ukrainians and four Polish nationals – were detained for helping migrants to cross the border and face up to eight years imprisonment. In another location, guards said they prevented a group of ten migrants from crossing the border and claimed Belarusian authorities had been involved in the attempt. 

A Polish humanitarian group Grupa Granica says that in the past few days migrants were taken into the forest by Polish authorities and "brutally" pushed back to Belarus. The group of Kurdish people from Iraq included a baby less than 2 months old who was reportedly born in Bruzgi in Belarus.

Thousands of migrants remain in Belarus. Most have been accommodated in a huge 10,000-sq meter warehouse in Bruzgi. On Tuesday Grupa Granica said Belarus claimed that the camp was empty and everyone had returned home or was awaiting deportation. Grupa Granica posted, on Twitter, a video taken inside the warehouse earlier this month. It also said that the migrants removed from the Bruzgi camp were being "pushed to Poland".

Two different sets of rules

The border wall between Poland and Belarus is being built to keep out the migrants who began arriving last year when Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko encouraged people to come to Minsk saying they would have free passage to the European Union.

Polish authorities have refused to allow the migrants to cross the border and have pushed many back to Belarus. At least 19 people have died as a result of being trapped in the forest at the border without shelter or medical care. In February, The Guardian reported that the bodies of some migrants had been found torn apart by animals. 

The welcome Poland has extended to the millions of people fleeing the war in neighboring Ukraine has led to accusations of double standards.

Marianna Wartecka from Ocalenie Foundation, a group helping migrants at both the Ukrainian and Belarusian borders, told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in a report published on March 22: "It’s like there are two different countries in one, two totally different set of rules – people whose lives are worth saving and those who can die in the forest." 


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