Hundreds of immigrants are expected along the closed border of Poland


Polish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited the border on Tuesday and warned that tensions could escalate in the coming days.

Poland has accused Belarus of trying to provoke a major conflict by encouraging immigrants to cross the border into Poland and into the European Union (EU).

The video clips show hundreds of immigrants hoping to cross the border into Poland, many of them using spades and other tools to break through the fence.

Polish border guards told Reuters news agency that about 800 people had taken shelter in the open in Belarus on the other side of the border fence, part of a group of about 4,000 migrants seeking refuge there and in the surrounding forests.

A spokesman for Poland’s special services said they had estimated that there were about 12,000 immigrants in Belarus.

Polish authorities closed a border crossing at 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday near the part of the border where thousands of immigrants tried to force their way in on Monday.

Poland says it has deployed additional troops, border guards and police at the border. Neighboring Lithuania says it may declare a state of emergency on the Belarusian border.

Polish police said on Twitter on Tuesday that the situation was calm except for the incident of throwing a stone at a police car the night after Monday’s clashes.

A police official said tensions could escalate in the coming days, with additional international assistance being sought.

Poland’s Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Yaboevsky has told private radio station Jeth that they do not need any additional support from the European border and coast guard agency Frontex for the time being.

EU envoys to the UN are expected to meet on Tuesday to discuss border tensions.

Belarus’s state news agency Belta quoted the country’s interior minister as saying that no immigration law had been violated.

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About the Author: James Lewter

James Lewter is a senior reporter at Zobuz, covering state and national politics, and he is a grantee with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Before joining Zobuz, he worked as a freelance journalist in Kentucky, having been published by dozens of outlets including NPR, the Center for Media.