Poland sees surge at border as West accuses Belarus of orchestrating crisis

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Poland said Wednesday it had seen a surge in attempts to breach its border and had pushed back hundreds of migrants to Belarus, after it accused Minsk and Moscow of trying to orchestrate a crisis on Europe’s borders.

The migrants, mainly from the Middle East, have spent days in freezing temperatures on the border, blocked by rows of Polish border guards behind razor-wire.

Western governments have accused Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko of luring the migrants to his country and sending them to cross over into EU member Poland in retaliation for sanctions.

Poland has gone a step further, saying Lukashenko’s main backer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, is masterminding the crisis.

Between 2,000 and 4,000 migrants, reported to be mainly Kurds, have set up a camp near the border after they made a concerted effort to cross on Monday but were pushed back by Polish border guards.

Polish officials said Wednesday there had been a spike in attempted crossings in the previous 24 hours.

Poland’s border guard said that large groups of migrants, ranging from 200 to several dozen persons, crossed the border illegally from Belarus in three places overnight in Podlaskie province, but were all pushed back.

“All these attempts were thwarted, all these people were redirected back to Belarus,” Podlaskie region border guard spokeswoman Major Katarzyna Zdanowicz told reporters.

Polish police said more than 50 migrants were detained and handed over to border guards to be sent back to Belarus.—Agencies

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