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Migrants heading to Poland border: Belarus

The situation at the Poland-Belarus border is set to worsen, with Belarusian authorities saying that several hundred migrants are making their way in large groups through the country to the border with the European Union.

Photos showed people carrying all their belongings with them as they walked west toward EU-member Poland.

Thousands of people have tried to cross illegally from Belarus into Poland in recent months.

The migrants are caught at the centre of a fierce diplomatic row between Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and the European Union, which does not recognise the authoritarian ruler as a legitimate leader.

The border guards of the ex-Soviet republic said they had taken “all necessary measures” to ensure security, according to a report by the state news agency Belta.

Poland, for its part, announced it would strengthen protection at the EU’s external border.

Polish authorities believe that the migrants could try to break through the border near the town of Kuznica Bialostocka.

“This huge group of migrants is under the control of armed Belarusian units who decide where they can and cannot go,” Polish intelligence co-ordinator Stanislaw Zaryn wrote on Twitter.

He spoke of another hostile action against Poland by its neighbour.

Lukashenko faces international criticism for having allowed migrants to fly into Belarus from crisis regions and then transporting them to the EU border.

In response to sanctions against his country, he had declared that he would no longer stop people on their way to a better life in western Europe.

EU border states such as Poland are putting in measures to stop the influx and have reported thousands of border crossings in recent months.

There have already been several deaths among migrants in the border region.

Germany is considered a major destination for migrants.

According to information from the German Interior Ministry, an average of about 170 migrants are arriving in Germany via Poland every day.

The number was not growing and the number of asylum applications had also stopped rising, according to ministry spokesman Steve Alter.

“This could lead to the conclusion that our measures are at least partially working,” Alter told DPA.

Monday could mark the worst escalation at the border so far, Polish government spokesman Piotr Mueller told the PAP news agency.

More border guards would be sent to the relevant sections of the border, he said.

The Ministry of Defence published aerial photos showing a large crowd of people near the border.

Lithuania is also increasing its protection measures.

“We are preparing for all possible scenarios,” border guard chief Rustamas Liubajevas said.

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