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Poland finds body near Belarus border

November 13, 2021

The ninth recorded death on the Poland-Belarus border comes amid an escalating standoff over migrants trying to reach the EU. Meanwhile, Russia "hopes" Germany will talk with Belarus to resolve the strife.

Migrants line up at the Belarus-Poland border
Temperatures on the Belarus-Poland border are below zero at times, as thousands of migrants await their next moveImage: Leonid Shcheglov/AP/picture alliance

Polish police said Saturday that the body of a young Syrian man was found in the woods near the border with Belarus.

He is the latest victim in a political standoff at the European Union's eastern border.

Authorities said the body was found a day earlier near the village of Wolka Terechowska. The exact cause of death could not be determined.

On Thursday, a 14-year-old Kurdish boy died of hypothermia, due to the freezing temperatures on the EU border with Belarus.

DW's Jack Parrock reports from Polish-Belarusian border

The two deaths raise the human toll to at least nine reported victims as migrants arriving in Belarus are stranded next to the Polish border.

Brussels says the regime in Minsk has for months been pushing migrants across its frontier into the EU nations of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

DW's Marina Strauss in Poland

Migrants stuck in limbo

DW Correspondent Marina Strauss said the area near the border is a vast forest: "There are swamps, there [are] wild animals, for example, wolves. It's freezing cold, especially at night, so you can only imagine what it must be like for the people who are trying to find their way."

Strauss said some local activists said that last night they found 10 people, including children, "in a very bad condition." 

"And there are certainly more people in these forests looking for help, looking for a way out of there."

Some European states have accused Minsk of using the migrants as "weapons" to retaliate against EU sanctions in the wake of Belarus' 2020 disputed elections and a violent crackdown on dissent by President Alexander Lukashenko's regime.

Polish border guards put the number of people on the border at between 3,000 and 4,000, with more arriving every day, tempted by what appeared to be an easier way to reach Europe, through Belarus.

The situation has prompted some EU countries to reinforce their frontiers to block the new migration route.


US raises concern

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said Friday the situation on the border is "of great concern."

"We've communicated our concern to Russia, and we've communicated our concern to Belarus," Biden told reporters in the White House garden.

Moscow is Lukashenko's main backer but denies any involvement in the crisis.

Putin 'hopes' Belarus and Germany will talk

Russian President Vladimir Putin said European leaders needed to talk to Lukashenko to resolve the tensions.

"As I understand it, Alexander Lukashenko and (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel are ready to talk to each other," Putin said in a televised interview aired Saturday.

"I hope this will happen in the near future — this is most important."

Putin, again, blamed the West, saying its policies in the Middle East were the reasons migrants wanted to go to Europe in the first place.

The EU, meanwhile, is keen to avoid a repeat of the 2015 migrant crisis that saw more than 1 million people apply for refuge in the bloc.

Brussels is now considering new measures against Lukashenko.

New flight curbs begin

Turkey, which is hosting millions of refugees on its territory, said Friday it would stop Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis from boarding flightsto Belarus.

The decision was welcomed by EU officials, who said their efforts yielded success. 

mm/fb (AP, dpa, Reuters, AFP)