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Sunday June 23, 2024

Poland redeploys buffer zone on Belarus border to deter migrants

By AFP
June 11, 2024
Polish soldiers and a local dog walk along the border fence on the Polish-Belarusian border in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, August 30, 2023. — Reuters
Polish soldiers and a local dog walk along the border fence on the Polish-Belarusian border in Usnarz Gorny, Poland, August 30, 2023. — Reuters

WARSAW: Poland on Monday announced plans to redeploy a no-entry buffer zone on its border with Belarus later this week, in a bid to deter illegal migrants from entering the country.

In May, Warsaw and the West blamed Belarus and its ally Russia for orchestrating the influx of African migrants, as part of a “hybrid” attack designed to destabilise the region and the EU.

The aim is “to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to cross the Polish-Belarussian border and to create better operating conditions for the border guards, army and police” deployed there, Prime Minister Donald Tusk told reporters.

The buffer zone will be operational from Thursday.

Last week, a Polish soldier who was patrolling the border was fatally stabbed by a migrant.

Speaking on TVN24, Deputy Interior Minister Czeslaw Mroczek said the buffer zone will extend over two sections and more than 60-kms in areas where there are the highest number of illegal crossings.

“For around 45 kilometres, it will be an area of around 200 metres deep. On the part that crosses nature reserves, the great forest (Bialowieza), the zone will be a little deeper,” Mroczek added.

In 2021, the previous nationalist government built a three kilometre deep buffer zone along the entire border that was closed to all non-residents, including humanitarian organisations and journalists.

Poland in 2022 erected a five-metre-high metal fence along 186-kms of its border with Belarus to deter migrants, equipping it with thousands of cameras and motion sensors.