Friday 9/17/21

State of emergency at Polish-Belarusian border set to go into effect

Civil rights will be restricted and media representatives will also be kept out of the zone
01 September 2021, Poland, Usnarz Gorny: Police officers stand on guard next to the village of Usnarz Gorny near a makeshift camp where a group of migrants stay and are not being let into the Polish side. The Polish government is introducing a State of Emergency on the border with Belarus in two voivodeships (the highest-level administrative division of Poland) to stop migrants crossing illegally. Photo: Attila Husejnow/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Police officers stand next to the village of Usnarz Gorny near a makeshift camp of migrants trying to get into the Polish side. Photo: Attila Husejnow/dpa.

A state of emergency is set to go into effect at Poland's border with Belarus on Thursday after Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a decree, part of his country's efforts to end a flow of migrants via the former Soviet republic.

The decree had been prepared by the government and had been awaiting Duda's signature for implementation. "The situation on Poland's border to Belarus is challenging and dangerous," said a spokesperson for the presidency.

Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said this week that the decree would be in place for 30 days and affect a "thin strip" along the border as well as 183 communities, all of which would see civil rights restricted. That includes a ban on demonstrations.

Media representatives will also be kept out of the zone.

Kaminski said the decree is expected to go into effect on Thursday.

Kaminski said 3,000 migrants have tried to cross the border from Belarus to Poland without permission in August alone. Just last week, Poland began construction of a 2.5-metre-tall fence along the 418-kilometre border.

Refugees from Afghanistan

After allegations of vote tampering arose following elections last year that returned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to power, the EU lashed out with sanctions against the country.

Belarus has responded by allowing migrants to move freely across its borders into EU countries, sparking fears of a refugee influx.

The Polish public is currently focused on the fate of a group of 32 refugees from Afghanistan who have been stuck near the border town of Usnarz Gorny for nearly three weeks.