Monday, 20 Sep 2021

Why has Poland declared state of emergency? Border row triggers threat to ‘life of nation’

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Polish officials’ decision to impose a state of emergency falsely indicates a “threat to the life of the nation”, human rights experts state. The proclamation affects two provinces, Podlaskie and Lubelskie, that border Belarus. Officials have aimed to “protect the safety” of residents, while human rights experts accuse the government of being disingenuous.

What has Poland declared a state of emergency?

The two regions covered by the state of emergency sit at Poland’s frontier border with Belarus.

Officials have targeted the border as migrants arrived in the area over the last few weeks.

Warsaw has pinned the blame on Minsk for allowing Afghan migrants over the border as they flee the Taliban.

Officials fear protesters and foreign actors could risk locals living in the area.

The state of emergency will clamp down on people’s free movement in the name of “safety of our citizens, especially the inhabitants of border towns”, according to Polish interior minister Mariusz Kamiński.

New rules will curtail mass events and require people to carry an identity card.

Mr Kaminski said “outsiders” would bear the brunt of the restrictions, but Amnesty International has condemned them.

The organisation said officials have 27 Afghan men, four women and a 15-year-old child without “adequate food and clean water”.

Nils Muižnieks, Director for Amnesty’s Europe wing, said authorities used the emergency measures to target asylum seekers “and those who support them.”

The 32 refugees have inhabited a no man’s land between Poland and Belarus for three weeks.

Polish security forces have kept them pinned there, not allowing them to move further in, while Belarus officials refuse to let them back in.

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The influx of migrants at European borders follows the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan.

Allied troops have finalised their withdrawal from the country, which they have occupied since 2001, agreeing to take on their fair share of refugees.

But Belarus, according to European officials, is using them as instruments for retaliation.

The EU has expressed support for the country’s pro-democracy movement that has called for Alexander Lukashenko – the country’s authoritarian premier – to step down.

Officials allege Mr Lukashenko’s move seeks to orchestrate a migrant crisis and pile pressure on Belarus’ neighbours.

They estimate more than 4,000 people have crossed the border after fleeing Afghanistan and Iraq, many settling in Lithuania.

Poland, in particular, secured a spot in the country’s bad books after it accepted exiled Belorussian Olympic athlete Krystina Tsimanouskaya when she fled Tokyo fearing reprisals over government criticism.

The country has recorded more than 3,000 illegal crossings since August this year.

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