Belarus has been using migrants as leverage against the EU for months and is no longer preventing them from continuing their journey. The number of illegal entries into Germany on this route is skyrocketing – by mid-October it is almost 2000. The situation in the asylum centers is increasingly tense.
According to the Federal Police, more than 4,300 people have illegally entered Germany on the new escape route via Belarus and Poland since August. They came primarily from Iraq as well as from Syria, Yemen and Iran, said the federal police. The federal states of Brandenburg, Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are affected. In the months of January to July 2021, a total of 26 people were registered with reference to the Belarus route. In August, however, there were 474 and in September 1914 people.
This month this number has already been exceeded: As of October 11, 1934 federal police officers found people who had entered Germany illegally via Belarus and Poland. The asylum centers are filling up, especially in Brandenburg. Currently, 2600 people are accommodated at various locations, said Olaf Jansen, head of the central immigration office in Eisenhüttenstadt. The usual capacity of 3500 places was temporarily increased to 4600 by means of heated tents. Probably one will go up to 5000 places. But the facilities are not overcrowded. “It’s not a dramatic situation, but it’s a tough situation,” said Jansen.
The big challenge is the Covid quarantine for all comers in order to prevent the virus from spreading. Jansen expects a further increase in arrivals. “We don’t see any effort to stop this,” he said. In May, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced in response to tightened sanctions by the European Union that it would no longer prevent migrants from continuing to travel to Poland and the Baltic States.
Poland plans hard border with Belarus
Several EU states accuse Lukashenko of bringing people from crisis regions to the EU’s external border in an organized manner. Poland announced that it wanted to permanently fortify its border with Belarus. Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said that the project, which the government approved on Tuesday evening, is planning to build a “solid, high barrier that will be equipped with a surveillance system and motion detectors.” It now has to be approved by Parliament. The national conservative ruling party PiS no longer has a majority there, but a positive vote is still likely.
Poland started building a temporary fence along the border with Belarus at the end of August. This is a barbed wire barricade about 2.50 meters high, which is being erected by soldiers of the Polish army. This is now to be replaced by the construction of a permanent fortification. Polish government officials speak of a “barrier” or “lock” – they avoid the word wall. A budget of the equivalent of 366 million euros is planned for the project. The Polish border guards are supposed to supervise the construction.