The number of migrants crossing from Poland into Germany has increased dramatically – as a result of increased migration from Belarus. Tens of thousands of people from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran, have crossed into the EU through Poland and the Baltic States.
As a result, the German Federal Police Union, which represents the country’s border guards, has now urged the German government to put up temporary controls on the Polish border to stem the flow of migrants.
Typically, migrants fly to Minsk, where they are then smuggled across the border into Poland.
According to German and Polish security services, Belarus takes a substantial cut of the €5,000 to €7,000 fees that “travel agencies” typically charge each migrant for the journey.
More than 4,000 people have crossed into Lithuania, with a similar number having entered Latvia.
The Polish Authorities have reportedly stopped more than 16,000 attempts to cross their country’s border since August.
The rate of crossing has now surpassed more than 500 a day in the last few weeks.
But the crossings are not always successful, with some migrants being trapped in the frontier zone.
This has led to at least seven deaths from exhaustion or hypothermia.
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Head of the union Heiko Teggatz said that the number of people travelling from Poland into Germany had already surpassed the levels seen on the Austrian border during the initial phase of the mass migration movement into Europe in 2013.
Mr Teggatz urged authorities not to permit a return to the “collapse of security infrastructure at the border” and “uncontrolled immigration into Germany”.
In a letter to Horst Seehofer, Germany’s interior minister, obtained by Bild, Mr Teggatz said that “the number of [illegal entries] detected has been rising almost explosively for months.”
He warned the authorities not to allow a return to the “collapse of security infrastructure at the border” and “uncontrolled immigration into Germany”.
On Sunday, Lukashenko added four more countries – Iran, Pakistan, Egypt and Jordan – to the list covered by the Belarusian visa-free scheme and said that migrants could also arrive in smaller regional airports outside Minsk.
Tadeusz Iwanski, head of the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova department at the OSW Centre for Eastern Studies, a think tank in Warsaw, describe this as “a signal that Lukashenko is not backing down.”
“His aim is to force the West to the table and withdraw sanctions, and visa-free travel shows that he is committed to bringing more people in to keep up the pressure”, he added.