WARSAW – A group of some 30 migrants seeking asylum, including small children, has been stuck at Poland's border wall with Belarus for three days, Polish human rights activists said Sunday.
Although the migrants were outside Poland's border wall, activists from Grupa Granica (Border Group) said they were on Polish territory and Belarus was not allowing them to turn back.
“In Belarus, they are not safe," activist Marta Staniszewska said.
“The Belarusian services, as this group has told us, threaten them that if they return, they will be beaten, or that they will kill them,” Staniszewska told The Associated Press.
The migrants say that several among them are sick, one girl has a toothache, and the children have mosquito bites, according to Staniszewska.
A representative of Poland’s ombudsman’s office visited and talked to the group on Sunday, but later told reporters that the decision about whether to allow them into the country belongs to the Polish Border Guard.
“If these persons are indeed within the jurisdiction of the (Polish) Border Guard and declare their willingness to apply for international protection, then .... such applications should be accepted," Maciej Grzeskowiak said.
Last year, Poland put up almost 190 kilometers (117 miles) of tall metal wall intended to stop thousands of migrants from Asia and Africa entering the country from Belarus.
The European Union has accused authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of aiding illegal border crossings in retaliation for EU sanctions. Lukashenko denies encouraging migration to Europe.
Poland's most powerful politician, the head of Poland’s right-wing ruling party, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said recently that building the wall was a good decision. He said it was protecting Poland and the EU against hostile moves by Belarus and Russia.
Despite the wall, up to 150 migrants of various nationalities, often with Russian visas in their documents, try to cross illegally into Poland each day, according to the Border Guard.
On some occasions, such groups threw stones and sticks from behind the wall at the border guards, but then apparently moved away. It is not possible from Poland's side to determine what happens to the groups.