European Court Asks Poland and Lithuania to Take in Migrants at the Belarusian Border

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has asked the governments of Poland and Lithuania to take in and provide aid to migrants from Afghanistan and Iraqi Kurdistan who’ve amassed at the Belarusian border.

In its order, which cited the European Convention on Human Rights, the ECHR asked Poland and Lithuania to provide the migrants with “food, water, clothing, adequate medical care and, if possible, temporary shelter”. 

The order comes as the Belarusian government, led by Aleksander Lukashenko, continues to use migrants as a tool to wage hybrid warfare against Central and Eastern European states who played a central role in imposing E.U. sanctions against Belarus, in the wake of its presidential elections last fall, which are regarded by most to have been corrupt and illegitimate.

“Up to 10,000 people have already been brought to the borders of Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland,” Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks told western media last week. “If we don’t address this flow, Lukashenko will just keep it up, and it will become an unmanageable situation. Lukashenko saw how much the 2015 refugee crisis weakened the EU. Our fellow EU member states have to realize that this is a hybrid attack on at least three countries, in an attempt to weaken the EU,” he added. 

In the wake of the surge of migrants, the Polish government has sent several hundred soldiers to their eastern border with Belarus to ensure the territorial integrity of both Poland and the European Union.

Earlier this month, 350 foreign nationals who illegally crossed the Polish-Belarusian border were apprehended and detained by the Polish Border Guard. This year, alone, the Podlaskie Border Guard, a regional unit that operates along the country’s northeast border with Belarus, has apprehended around 900 illegal border crossers – eight times more than were detained during 2020. 

Last week, while visiting troops deployed to the Polish-Belarusian border, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak announced that construction of an 8-foot border fence, similar to one that runs along the Hungarian-Serbian border, would begin immediately.