Poland warns migrant crisis could last for months

Migrants stay in the transport and logistics centre Bruzgi on the Belarusian-Polish border, on Nov 17, 2021.
Migrants stay in the transport and logistics centre Bruzgi on the Belarusian-Polish border, on Nov 17, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

WARSAW (AFP) - Poland's Defence Minister on Wednesday (Nov 17) warned that the crisis on the Belarusian border could last for months, saying migrants had been "attacking the Polish border" again during the night.

Poland on Tuesday fired tear gas and deployed water cannon against rock-throwing migrants trying to cross over in an escalation of a months-long stand-off on the EU's eastern border.

Thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, are camped out on the border in what the West says is a crisis engineered by Belarus to divide the EU and hit back against sanctions, charges Minsk has denied.

"We have to prepare for the fact that the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border will not be resolved quickly. We have to prepare for months. I hope not for years," Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak told Poland's Radio Jedynka.

Mr Blaszczak said that attempts to cross the border had continued during the night, adding that migrants had used the same "method of attacking the Polish border" as on Tuesday.

"The public attention focused on what happened in Kuznica, while smaller groups of migrants tried to break through the Polish border in other sections, also at night," he said.

The border guard service said it had detected "161 attempts at illegal crossing" on Tuesday, including "two forceful attempts to cross the border registered during the evening".

Polish police on Wednesday said nine police officers were injured in the clashes on Tuesday, along with a border guard and a soldier.

A police spokesman said no injured officers remained in hospital.