2021–2022 Belarus–European Union border crisis

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2021 Belarus-European Union border crisis
Part of the European migrant crisis
2021 Belarus–European Union border crisis. Routes of illegal migrants are shown
Date7 July 2021 – present
(2 years, 10 months, 1 week and 5 days)
Caused by
Border markers with a fence on the Lithuanian side.

The 2021 Belarus–European Union migrant crisis (Lithuanian: 2021 m. migrantų krizė Lietuvoje) is a migrant crisis caused by an increase of Middle Eastern and African migrants (mainly from Iraq) to Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland through those countries' borders with Belarus. The crisis was caused by bad relations between the European Union and Belarus, following the 2020 Belarusian presidential election, the 2020–2021 Belarusian protests, the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident, and the attempted repatriation of Krystsina Tsimanouskaya.

Lithuanian officials said the crisis was a hybrid warfare by human trafficking of migrants to Lithuania and the rest of the European Union.[2]

In Poland[change | change source]

The Belarus–Poland border

On 12 July 2021, Polish President Andrzej Duda stated that Poland will provide assistance to Lithuania.[3] In July 2021, Poland sent a humanitarian aid to Lithuania.[4] Following the granting of shelter to an Olympic athlete Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and her husband, Poland also accused Belarus of organizing a hybrid warfare as the number of migrants crossing the Belarus–Poland border sharply increased multiple times when compared to the 2020 statistics.[5][6]

As Belarus-Poland relations got worse further, migrants from Belarus began to enter Poland.[7] On 6 August 2021, Poland reported 133 illegal crossings from Belarus over two days, which is more than the total number in the previous year,[8] with the total number of illegal crossings to date being 552.[9] On 9 August, Poland reported an additional 349 migrant arrivals over the weekend.[7]

In early August 2021, a group of 32 Afghans and 41 Iraqi Kurds appeared on the border in the aftermath of the fall of Kabul (2021) and were denied entry to either country, resulting in lines of military personnel on each side isolating the encamped migrants. Their appearance follows an influx of thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants that had crossed the border from Belarus into Poland and other eastern EU members Latvia and Lithuania in the months leading up to the fall of Kabul, with the EU claiming that Belarus purposefully engineered the migration in response to union sanctions. While the Belarusian government denied this accusation, Poland called it a "hybrid attack" on the bloc and said the migrants should not be allowed entry because they are technically still in Belarus. After the migrants sought asylum assistance, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) summoned Poland and Latvia to provide them "food, water, clothing, adequate medical care and, if possible, temporary shelter" for three weeks, according to a statement from the court on 25 August, although neither country was ordered to allow the migrants past the border.[10]

Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia released a joint statement, condemning the hybrid warfare of sending migrants over the borders.[11] Since 18 August, 2021, Polish Armed Forces were sent to secure border with Belarus.[12] As a response to the migrant crisis, Poland is building a wall in its border with Belarus.[13][14]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Estonia: Governo richiama riservisti per esercitazione anti migranti".
  2. Whitmore, Brian (30 June 2021). "Belarus dictator weaponizes illegal migrants against EU". Atlantic Council.
  3. "Lithuania turns to Poland for assistance with irregular migration". Lrt.lt. 12 July 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  4. "Poland sends humanitarian aid to Lithuania in response to migration crisis at Lithuanian-Belarusian border". Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Poland. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  5. Wądołowska, Agnieszka (6 August 2021). "Poland accuses Belarus of sending migrants over border as "living weapons" in "hybrid war"". Notes From Poland. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  6. "Poland Says Belarus Is Letting Migrants Cross Border In 'Hybrid War' With EU". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 5 August 2021. Retrieved 6 August 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Poland reports record number of migrants at Belarusian border". Reuters. 2021-08-09. Retrieved 2021-08-09.
  8. "Poland, Lithuania call for EU help with migration surge at Belarusian border". Reuters. 6 August 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  9. "Migrants Find New Path to EU as Lithuania Plugs Belarus Border". Bloomberg. 6 August 2021. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  10. Anon. (26 August 2021). "Court tells Poland, Latvia to aid migrants on Belarus border". DW. Retrieved 27 August 2021.
  11. "Baltic, Polish PMs condemn 'hybrid attack' by Belarus". Lrt.lt. 23 August 2021. Retrieved 24 August 2021.
  12. "Poland sends troops to Belarus border as migrant numbers surge". Reuters. 18 August 2021.
  13. "Poland to build anti-refugee wall on Belarus border". EUobserver. 24 August 2021.
  14. "Poland to build Belarus border fence after migrant influx". BBC News. 23 August 2021.