Amid the migrant crisis unfolding at the Polish-Belarusian border, the Green Party of France has released a scathing statement accusing Belarusian, President Alexander Lukashenko, of purposely orchestrating the crisis for the benefit of his own authoritarian government.
While French-Belarusian relations have been frosty for some time, they reached a new low on October 18th of this year when French Ambassador to Belarus, Nicolas de Lacoste, was expelled from the country after refusing to submit his accreditation to Lukashenko in protest of his controversial reelection.
President since 1994 and serving his sixth consecutive term, Lukashenko is now forced to endure heavy sanctions from the European Union, who claim his regime is “instrumentalizing human beings” in order to politically destabilize the EU.
What is happening at the Polish-Belarusian Border?
The Belarusian government has been accused of orchestrating the arrival of migrants at the Polish border by increasing flights from the Middle East to Minsk. Furthermore, a recent report by the BBC uncovered “a network of [Belarusian] travel agents, airlines and smugglers” that “have been involved in enabling migrants to get visas, leave their home countries, fly to Minsk, and travel to the EU’s borders.”
Reports have revealed that once these migrants; mostly Iraqis, Afghans and Syrians, arrive in border towns, Belarusian border guards then guide them “along the highway” and “through the forest” to the Polish border where they can seek asylum in the EU. Some migrants even informed the BBC that “Belarusian border guards cut through the border fencing at night to allow them to cross into Poland.”
The actions by the Lukashanko’s regime have resulted in a humanitarian crisis at the border, where as many as 4 000 asylum seekers find themselves stranded in “makeshift camps” in Belarus, with little food or water.
Things have not been rosy on the Polish side of the border for the migrants either. In the last few months, Poland has sent more than 15 000 soldiers to “reinforce its borders,” and there have been numerous reports of migrants being abused by Polish officials.
Responding to the crisis, the French Greens not only voiced their support for placing stronger sanctions on the Belarusian government, but also demanded that Poland stop turning its back on the migrants. Furthermore, the Greens called on the European Union to come together to take in the asylum seekers, and rescue them from the “grave mortal danger” they are facing.
On November 11th, ‘Infomigrants’ reported that a 14-year old Kurdish boy froze to death in a camp on the Belarusian side of the border. A scant two weeks later, on November 23rd, the migrants witnessed the arrival of the first snowfall since the crisis began.