Poland’s cabinet has decided to fund the construction of a fence on the border with Belarus, as the government looks to stem the increased flow of migrants attempting to enter the country to seek asylum in the European Union.
The decision was announced by Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, who tweeted that the government had backed the plan for a “solid, high barrier” equipped with monitoring equipment.
The bill will now go to parliament, where MPs will vote on the project that will cost the Polish taxpayer 1.615 billion zloty ($400 million).
The drive to protect the Polish frontier comes after months of a migrant crisis that first began in May. That month, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania began to report increased illegal migration, with thousands of third-country nationals, mainly from the Middle East, attempting to cross into the EU via Belarus. The situation is still ongoing.
The crisis began after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko warned that his country would no longer make any effort to stop illegal immigration. The three EU countries have claimed that the government in Minsk has flown in migrants from abroad, and is shuttling them to the border as a form of warfare.
According to the Polish Border Guard, since just the beginning of October, there have been over 6,000 attempts to cross the border from Belarus into Poland illegally.
In September, Warsaw was slammed by London-based human rights NGO Amnesty International after it was found to have illegally stranded 32 Afghan migrants on the Belarusian frontier, leaving the asylum seekers without access to clean water, shelter and medicine for weeks, despite having an obligation as an EU country to process their asylum claims.
“Amnesty International believes that this movement could constitute evidence of an unlawful pushback because it appears that the movement occurred as armed Polish border guards surrounded the refugees’ makeshift camp,” a report from the organization said.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!