Polish lawmakers OK anti-migrant wall on Belarus border

International

FILE – In this Sept. 1, 2021 file photo, migrants stuck along the Poland-Belarus border carry plastic water bottles as they are surrounded by Polish forces in Usnarz Gorny, Poland. Officials in Poland said Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, that two soldiers have been lightly hurt when a group of some 60 migrants tried to illegally force their way across the guarded border from Belarus. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, file)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s lawmakers on Friday approved the speedy construction of a $402 million barrier on the European Union member’s border with Belarus, seeking to stop the increasing flow of migrants.

Now the plan proposed by the right-wing government only needs the approval from President Andrzej Duda, a government ally. Construction of the wall with motion sensors is to start upon the approval.

Poland and other EU nations are accusing the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging and aiding migrants from the Mideast and Africa to seek entry into the EU through their borders with Belarus. It says the government in Minsk is seeking to destabilize the whole bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions.

Some migrants, chiefly from Iraq and Syria, have died from exhaustion near Poland’s border with Belarus, which runs over 400 kilometers (250 miles) through forest, bogs and along the Bug River.

Poland has built a razor-wire fence on the border and sent thousands of border guards, troops and police, but the measures have failed to stop the inflow of migrants. The border guards have also been pushing migrants back across the border, including some families with children, and a new Polish law makes that legal.

Poland is also in talks with the European Union’s border agency Frontex regarding plans to fly the migrants back to their home countries.

Migrants who get into any EU country can ask for international protection, or asylum that will cover all of the EU, but in most cases the requests are denied.

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Follow all AP stories on global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

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