Syrian man found dead on Polish border with Belarus

Autopsy ordered to determine cause of death, police say

Sam Hancock
Saturday 13 November 2021 14:08
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<p>Polish military police guard their country’s side of the border with Belarus </p>

Polish military police guard their country’s side of the border with Belarus

The body of a young Syrian man has been found in Polish woodland near the country’s border with Belarus, police have said, amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation at the European Union’s eastern edge.

Officers said the man, thought to have been around 20, was found dead on Friday near the village of Wolka Terechowska. It brings the death toll of people trying to cross the border from Belarus into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, to at least nine.

The EU has accused Belarus’s longtime president Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging the crossings and sparking a political standoff between Minsk and the bloc in the process.

Polish police added the exact cause of death of the latest victim could not be determined but that an autopsy would be performed in the coming days.

The EU nation, along with co-members Lithuania and Latvia, continue to reinforce their borders, with onlookers concerned the situation will get out of hand as winter approaches and crossings become more dangerous.

Many of the migrants attempting to make the journey are from Syria, Iraq or other countries in the Middle East, and are desperately attempting to flee conflict for the prospect of a better life in Europe.

In the last week alone, Polish authorities have shared video footage of large migrant groups attempting to cross the border and accused Belarus of giving people tear gas to evade being caught on their journey.

Poland’s border guards also claimed that Belarusian soldiers attempted to destroy part of a temporary border fence. As a result, the country’s government vowed to construct a 180km-long perimeter by the end of 2022.

A large number of migrants are currently in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border in so-called “frigid conditions”, according to Reuters news agency. Temperatures are reported to have dropped to around -3C at night, resulting in the death of a 14-year-old boy.

Polish authorities say it is from the camp that migrants make their daily attempt to cross the border.

The situation shows no sign of ending anytime soon, with Belarusian state news agency Belta reporting on Saturday that Mr Lukashenko ordered his military to set up tents at the border so food and other humanitarian aid can be distributed to migrants.

Since the large migration into Europe in 2015, countries have been reinforcing their borders to discourage new arrivals. But despite this, tens of thousands try to get in every year, embarking on dangerous and sometimes deadly journeys by sea and land.

In the last few months, though, thousands have been lured by what appeared to be a new and easier way to get into Europe, via Belarus.

The EU has accused Mr Lukashenko of creating the artificial route in order to retaliate for sanctions against his regime imposed after an election in 2020 that was widely considered to be fixed.

Additional reporting by agencies

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