Lukashenko says troops might have helped refugees reach EU

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has mentioned it was “absolutely possible” his forces helped individuals cross into the European Union, however denied inviting them to the nation.

European governments have accused Belarus of artificially creating the disaster by bringing in individuals from overseas and taking them to the border with guarantees of a straightforward crossing into the bloc. Belarus has denied the declare, as a substitute criticising the EU for shutting its borders.

Asked if Belarus was serving to refugees and migrants attempt to cross into Poland, Lukashenko mentioned: “I feel that’s completely attainable.

“We’re Slavs. We have hearts. Our troops know the migrants are going to Germany … Maybe someone helped them,” he instructed the BBC. “But I didn’t invite them here,” he mentioned.

Polish border guards on Friday mentioned there have been tried crossings from Belarus by two teams of migrants and refugees on what’s the jap border of the European Union and NATO – one involving 500 individuals, a few of whom threw rocks and tear gasoline canisters, aided by Belarusian authorities. The guards mentioned that they had arrested 45 individuals.

Al Jazeera, like all different media, is unable to independently confirm claims about exercise on the border as Poland has banned reporters from accessing the 3km (2 miles)-wide zone.

The accusation by Poland suggests the disaster has not been resolved by an obvious change of tack by Minsk, which on Thursday had cleared the primary camps by the border and allowed the primary repatriation flight to Iraq in months.

Aid teams say at the least 11 asylum seekers and refugees have died on each side of the border for the reason that disaster started earlier this yr – though the actual quantity is believed to be increased – as considerations develop for individuals’s wellbeing amid freezing winter situations.

Human rights teams say Poland has exacerbated the struggling by sending again those that attempt to cross. Poland says that is essential to cease extra individuals from coming.

Migrants heat themselves near a fireplace on the checkpoint “Kuznitsa” on the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus [File: Maxim Guchek/BelTA via AP]

Poland and its allies accuse Belarus of intentionally engaging 1000’s of migrants and refugees, a lot of whom are from the Middle East, and funnelling them to the nation’s frontier with Poland in response to Western sanctions in opposition to Lukashenko’s authorities following his controversial re-election final yr.

Minsk, backed by Russia, denies that and has accused Polish safety forces of finishing up crimes in opposition to humanity whereas repelling individuals attempting to enter the EU.

Lukashenko and his foremost ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, spoke by cellphone on Friday and harassed “the importance of the establishment of cooperation between Minsk and the EU to resolve the problem”.

Meanwhile, Ukraine, which borders each Belarus and Poland, mentioned it was getting ready “systematically and thoroughly” in case the disaster shifted to its territory.

“We do not exclude the possibility that Russia will decide to purposefully send a large number of illegal migrants through Belarus to our territory,” Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky instructed parliament.

He mentioned the state of affairs on Ukraine’s border was presently below management, however warned that migrants who resolve to cross over shall be pushed again with any means vital, together with firearms.

On Friday, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak tweeted that Warsaw was “happy to accept Estonia’s proposal” to ship 100 troops to the border.

The migrants from the camps on the Belarusian facet had been taken on Thursday to an enormous, crowded warehouse and journalists had been permitted to movie them. Children ran about on Friday morning, and males performed playing cards whereas one dangled a toddler on his lap.

“This is not a life but this is not permanent, this should be just temporary until they decide our destiny: to take us to Europe or bring us back to our countries,” 23-year-old electrician Mohammed Noor instructed Reuters information company.

“What I wish for myself, I wish it for others too – to go to Europe and live a stable life.”

Meanwhile in a hospital in Bielsk Podlaski, on the Polish facet, two migrants who had been caught after crossing got therapy earlier than being taken away by Polish border guards.

Before he was taken away, Mansour Nassar, 42, a father of six from Aleppo, in Syria, who had travelled to Belarus from Lebanon, described his ordeal throughout 5 days within the forest.

“The Belarusian army told us: ‘If you come back, we will kill you’,” he mentioned, in tears in his hospital mattress. “We drank from ponds… Our people are always oppressed.”

Kassam Shahadah, a Syrian refugee physician living in Poland who helps out in one other hospital, mentioned sufferers had been scared of being forcibly returned to Belarus.

“What they have seen, what they have lived through on that side is a nightmare for them,” he mentioned.

The Council of Europe human rights commissioner Dunja Mijatovic referred to as the humanitarian state of affairs alongside the border “alarming” and demanded an finish to Poland’s controversial returns of migrants to Belarus.

“I have personally listened to the appalling accounts of extreme suffering from desperate people … who spent weeks or even months in squalid and extreme conditions in the cold and wet woods due to these pushbacks,” she mentioned in an announcement.

“All pushbacks must end immediately.”

She additionally referred to as on Poland to permit rights activists and media “immediate and unimpeded access to all areas along the border”.

Belarus mentioned Thursday there have been about 7,000 migrants within the ex-Soviet nation.

Vladimir Sotnikov, a political scientist from the Russian Academy of Sciences, instructed Al Jazeera {that a} potential answer to this example is for the EU to compromise.

“Probably, [a] solution could be.. [for the] EU [to] accept President Lukashenko as a legitimate president, and then Lukashenko could start negotiations with the EU just to defuse the crisis and to have a compromise,” he mentioned.

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