500 additional Polish soldiers are being dispatched to the Belarusian border as the crisis over what has been described by Polish and EU officials as a “hybrid attack” by Belarus and Russia against Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. The Polish Prime Minister’s Office added in a 20 Septemberh conference that there is growing evidence of the involvement of Belarusian border security forces in human trafficking.
During a press conference on 20 September Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said that Poland had “extensive evidence in our hands that this is a systematic, organized action on the side of Belarusian officials and the Belarusian police.”
If local reports are to be believed, the additional reinforcements are badly needed to stop the influx of migrants. The mayor of one village in Michalowo county near the border told Polish media that the talk of an impregnable border is unfounded. One of her neighbors found a family while picking mushrooms in the forest. Another encountered a group while on a bike ride. She herself had seen a group of nine.
Four dead bodies were recently discovered in the border region; one by Belarusian and three by Polish authorities. According to the chief commandant of the Polish border guard General Tomasz Praga, a Polish patrol spotted one woman lying next to a group of migrants on the Belarusian side of the border but calls made to their Belarusian counterparts were ignored. The first patrol took hours to arrive and ignored the woman. After hours of continued Polish insistence another patrol was finally dispatched and confirmed the woman to be deceased. The three dead on the Polish side were all found in different locations.
The crisis erupted at the end of July as the number of migrants attempting to cross into the EU from Belarus rose dramatically. On 5 and 6 August more migrants illegally crossed into Poland than over the entirety of 2020. Evidence soon emerged that the migrants were being encouraged, or even coerced, by Belarusian authorities which were themselves largely responsible for getting the refugees into Belarus. Poland and Lithuania rushed to reinforce the border with soldiers and barbed wire. Both countries eventually declared a state of emergency to be in effect for border areas.