Poland forces illegal immigrants to return to Belarus

RUSSIA / FSU POLITICS - In Brief 23 Sep 2021 by Alex Teddy

On September 23 Polish NGOs said that the Polish government is forcing hundreds of illegal immigrants back into Belarus - allegedly where they came from. The Polish authorities are arresting the migrants and then deporting them. Most of them are from Iraq and Iran. They are mostly young men. The EU claims that Belarus is expediting the movement of illegal immigrants into the EU. This is ostensibly to penalize the EU for backing the Belarusian opposition. Belarus could weaponize illegal immigration because the EU is struggling with this issue. Illegal immigration boosts right wing populists in the EU who tend to be pro-Russian. Turkey and Libya also unleashed illegal immigrants to punish the EU. Poland has a 400 km border with Belarus. Poland is building a fence thereon. A state of emergency has been proclaimed which forfends journalists and campaigners from visiting the border zone. Polish NGOs said that the Polish government is forcing illegal immigrants back into Belarus rather than allow them to claim asylum. On September 18, 4 people were found dead on the border. It is unclear who or what killed them. In August 2021 Poland claimed there were over 3,500 crossings or attempted crossings from Belarus. It has been 4,100 in September 2021 thus far, which is a huge YoY increase. Lithuania and Latvia are having the same experience as Poland. How will the EU respond? It could conciliate Belarus or it could tighten sanctions. It will probably be the latter - given inclinations of late.

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