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Germany accuses Belarus of ‘trafficking’ migrants toward EU

WARSAW (Poland) -- Wednesday's German government accuses Belarus of "state run smuggling, trafficking" human lives. It accused Belarus of luring desperate migrants across the Polish border -- which is the edge of Europe -- where they are trapped in makeshift camps in freezing temperatures.

A leader of the EU stated that the bloc is considering funding a wall or other barrier at its eastern border, as the migrant crisis was not slowing down. This idea was rejected many times before and faces many humanitarian and political obstacles.

According to Polish authorities, there are approximately 3,000-4,000 migrants who have gathered at its border with Belarus. Many of them have been confined in a camp near the Kuznica crossing. Warsaw has increased security at the border, declaring a state emergency.

Polish authorities tweeted footage of migrants using wire cutters and shovels to cut through a fence at the border to enter Poland.

The West accuses Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, of encouraging migrants from Middle East to come to Belarus and then sending them to EU members Poland and Lithuania as revenge for the sanctions he imposed on his authoritarian regime's crackdown on internal dissidents since the 2020 disputed elections.

Although Belarus denies these allegations, stated that it will not stop migrants or otherseeking entry to the EU.

"These events at the Polish-Belarusian frontier may seem like a crisis in migration, but it is not. It is a political crisis that was triggered with the specific purpose of destabilizing Europe's situation," stated Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Prime Minister.

Steffen Seibert was a spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and stated in Berlin that Minsk's actions "are, of course state-run smuggling, trafficking... occurring 100% at the cost of those who are lured into this country with false promises."

Seibert stated that "the whole thing is happening in a hybrid attack against the European Union."

Poland claims Russia is responsible for the crisis due to its support of Lukashenko. Horst Seehofer from Germany, the interior minister, accused Lukashenko, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, of using people's fates to destabilize West.

Merkel called Putin Wednesday to ask him "to exert his power on the Minsk regime." Her office stated that Putin's exploitation of migrants against the European Union is unacceptable and inhuman.

According to the Kremlin, Putin suggested a conversation between representatives of EU member states (Minsk) and it also stated that Merkel and Putin "agreed" to continue the conversation.

Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, rejected the suggestion by Morawiecki to assign Moscow any responsibility for the crisis. He called them "absolutely irresponsible" and "unacceptable." Sergey Lavrov, the Foreign Minister of Belarus, also suggested that the EU provide financial assistance to Belarus in order to stem the flow of migrants.

The United States has condemned the Lukashenko government's "politically exploiting vulnerable persons" and is supporting Poland and Lithuania in facing the challenge from Belarus according to Karen Donfried, U.S. Assistant secretary of State for European Affairs and Eurasian Affairs. Donfried stated that the United States was supporting Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, visited Warsaw to meet with Morawiecki as a gesture for solidarity.

He stated, "We face a hybrid attack that is brutal, violent, and unworthy. We can only respond to this with firmness, unity, in line with our core values."

Michel stated that the EU is currently discussing next steps, including additional sanctions against Belarus and urging airlines to refrain from participating in illegal migration.

Michel said that the EU was discussing funding "physical infrastructure" at its external borders. The EU's executive committee has held for years that barriers and walls are ineffective and refused to pay money from the bloc. It will not pay for walls or fences, but surveillance and security equipment.

However, several member countries are urging it to do so. Poland and Lithuania, for example, have already begun to build high-security steel barriers and razor wire.

Polish security has been strengthened with 15,000 soldiers stationed at the border, along with police and border guards. The Polish Defense Ministry activated its Territorial Defense Force reserves to assist border guards and military personnel by searching for migrants and helping residents who have been negatively affected by restrictions.

According to the ministry and local police, several groups of migrants attempted to enter the country late Tuesday or early Wednesday. However, all those who managed to do so were arrested.

It also accused Belarusian forces, of firing shots into air at a border zone where migrants trapped between the two countries have set up camp. The ministry uploaded a Twitter video with sounds that sounded like shots. Belarus accuses Polish forces of firing from the air.

The geopolitical impasse has thousands of migrants, including children, trapped in a forest area of swamps, bogs, and forced back and forth. Eight people have died, and it is getting more dangerous as the temperatures drop below freezing at night.

Berlin claims that thousands of migrants have arrived in Germany. Many are currently housed at migrant centres. Others were detained and placed in closed migrant centres in Poland and Lithuania.

Poland has been criticized for its tougher stance on migrants. Many of these people were forced back to Belarus by lawmakers, leaving many in the woods. Warsaw lawmakers recently allowed people to return to their country of origin to be admitted to Poland, without granting them the right to seek asylum. According to the U.N refugee agency, these actions by Poland are illegal under international law.

Merkel's spokesperson Seibert blamed the "condemnable behaviour of the Belarusian leader", but also stated that the migrants deserved legal support -- an apparent message for Poland.

He said, "It's quite obvious that people who are now in this situation, which is dire for them and sometimes resort to desperate measures to get over the wire, are also in urgent need of humanitarian aid."

U.N. and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe raised alarm this week over the growing humanitarian crisis at the border.

The State Border Guard Committee of Belarus stated in a Telegram message Wednesday that four Kurdish-speaking men were hurt in a temporary migrant camp near the border. The injuries were attributed to the Polish security forces, according to the committee.

According to refugees, they were held on Polish territory where they attempted to apply for refugee and protection status. Judging from the many injuries, the Polish security force mistreated them and forcibly pushed the men out through a barbed wire on the border to Belarus," the post stated. It also included photos of the wounded.

The reports could not be verified. Reporters in Belarus are restricted from reporting independently, while reporters cannot enter the border zone of Poland due to a state emergency.

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