Belarus has confirmed that some 2,000 Middle East migrants are currently camped at the EU border crossing near northeast Poland, which has emerged as the main crisis point involving clashes with Polish border police and attempts to dismantle the security fence.
Amid frigid temperatures the crisis continues to escalate, with on Saturday the death of a young Syrian man being reported at the border. "Polish border authorities said Saturday that the body of a young Syrian man around 20 years old was found Friday. The man was found near Wólka Terechowska, a village in northeastern Poland," The Wall Street Journal reports. "The exact cause of death wasn’t immediately determined, they said."
It's at least the fifth known death along the Poland-Belarus border since the spring, when migrants began showing up in large groups at the EU border from the Belarusian side, amid ongoing accusations that the Alexander Lukashenko government is actively facilitating their movement into the EU as retribution for Western sanctions targeting the ex-Soviet Republic.
Other reports say there've been 8 additional deaths, citing squalid 'tent cities' established just meters from the border fence, as more migrant caravans continue to arrive.
Another Kurdish teenager, 14, died from cold on the Belarus border earlier today.— Renwar Najm (@RenwarNajm) November 12, 2021
The death toll has risen to eight, mostly minors, among migrants stranded on the Belarus-Poland border.
📷 This evening on the border, Ako Mejid. pic.twitter.com/JXjOTIWOWu
Furthermore, there are new allegations that Belarusian security is actually supplying the migrants with weapons to use against Polish police on the other side of the barbed wire border fence, per the WSJ:
On Saturday, Poland’s border guard accused the Belarusian military of trying to tear down the spools of barbed wire that Poland has used to fence off the border. Massive strobe lights and green laser beams from the Belarusian side blinded Polish security forces, Poland’s border guard said, posting a video of the chaotic encounter.
Authorities in Poland also said Belarus had equipped migrants with tear gas that was used against Polish security forces in an unsuccessful attempt overnight on Friday to break through the barrier.
Video appears to confirm that Belarusian agents are getting more directly involved in directing tensions with Polish police...
Last night Belarusian soldiers tried to destroy a Polish border fence near Czeremcha (115km south of Kuznica). Some of them were blinding Polish soldiers with stroboscopes and lasers while the others were ripping out fence posts and tearing down concertina wire using a vehicle. pic.twitter.com/qy4nBMKEGP— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) November 13, 2021
The increasingly violent border encounters look to continue, given the EU is preparing to slap Belarus with fresh sanctions, including the blacklisting of Belarusian airlines accused of being complicit in helping Mideast and North African migrants get to the EU.
The alleged efforts to orchestrate a crisis at the border reportedly involves airliners transporting migrants from the Middle East to Minsk for hefty sums, where they are later transported toward European border states like Poland, Latvia and Lithuania - all of which have declared states of emergencies at their borders.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki days ago charged that Russia is backing the plot - something which the Kremlin has vehemently denied will saying it's EU foreign policy itself that's to blame.