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A 186 km long iron fence separates Poland from Belarus

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Poland began building a new fence on the border with Belarus on Tuesday to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, which last year triggered a crisis between Warsaw and Minsk.

“The workshops were handed over to the drivers on Tuesday,” border guard spokeswoman Captain Kristina Yakimek Garush told AFP, refusing to specify the location of the works.

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With a length of 186 km and a cost of 353 million euros

He said the iron fence, which will span some 186km, or nearly half the border’s total length of 418km, will be five and a half meters high and will be equipped with cameras and motion detectors to help border guards. prevent illegal crossings. He stressed that it would be useful, in how much “the temporary (barbed wire) fence helped us a lot because it gave us time to get ready while a group of migrants got ready to jump and open a loophole to cross, to move to push it back.” The cost of the fence is estimated in 353 million euros and is expected to be completed in June.

The project raised the concerns of human rights and environmental activists, fearing on the one hand that migrants in escape from the conflict cannot seek asylum and on the other hand its harmful consequences for animals and plants in the forests on the border. “We will do everything possible to reduce damage to the environment and animals as much as possible,” said the spokesperson.

The European Union sided with Poland and harshly criticized Belarus. But the Polish government rejected the Brussels proposal to involve the European agency Frontex in border control and approved a law that allows the repatriation of illegal immigrants without waiting for them to apply for asylum.

Restricted area and barbed wire

Thousands of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, including Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Lebanon, but also from Afghanistan, attempted to cross the Polish border to EU territory last year. Only a few of them managed to cross and often continued their journey to Western Europe.

Poland and Western countries have accused the Belarusian regime of encouraging and even regulating the flow of migrants by promising to facilitate their entry into the European Union. The government of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has denied the allegations and accused Poland of inhumane treatment of migrants.

At the height of the crisis, Poland established a special border area closed to humanitarian NGOs and AI media, built barbed wire fences and sent several thousand soldiers to help border guards deal with migrants. They received orders to bring back the emigrants in Belarusian territory.

With around a dozen migrants dying of cold or starvation in Polish forests, these measures have sparked a lively debate. in Poland between supporters of human rights and supporters of the defense of national borders, which are also the borders of the European Union. Human rights activists are demanding that migrants be granted the right to seek asylum and not be deported while they wait for their application to be examined. The number of intrusion attempts has declined in recent months. On Tuesday, border guards said they had recorded 17 cases of illegal entry in the past 24 hours.

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