The Polish Parliament approves the construction of a wall on the border with Belarus

The Polish Parliament on Friday definitively approved the government’s plan to build a wall on the border with Belarus to prevent migrants and refugees from crossing into Poland.

The cost of the wall is estimated at 353 million euros and it is to extend over 100 kilometers to the eastern border of the European Union”. President Andrzej Duda had announced that he would enact the law as soon as it was approved by Parliament.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have crossed or attempted to cross the border from Belarus since the summer. The European Union accuses the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, of bringing Middle Eastern and African nationals to Minsk and then crossing the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in retaliation for EU economic sanctions on his regime.

In response, Poland imposed a state of emergency in the border area, dispatched thousands of troops there and legalized the controversial practice of direct refoulement. Non-governmental organizations have warned of increasingly dangerous weather conditions for people.

Application for European funding

Poland is one of twelve EU member States that last week asked the European Union to finance the erection of “barriers” at their borders. However, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Brussels would not finance the construction of barriers at EU borders.

Mrs Von der Leyen, last week reminded leaders at a summit in Brussels of a common position of the Commission and the European Parliament saying that “there will be no funding of barbed wire and walls“.

Insisting that Poland is being “attacked” by Belarus, nationalist Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week that the wall was essential to “protect” Poland.

The state of emergency, which prevents journalists and charities from approaching the border, has proved particularly controversial and the EU has called for “transparency”.

Eight days ago, the United Nations called for urgent action to save lives and prevent suffering at the EU-Belarus border, following the deaths of several asylum seekers.

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