BIALYSTOK, Poland, November 13 (Reuters) – The body of a young Syrian was found in Poland near the border with Belarus, Polish police said on Saturday, amid rising international tensions over a migrant crisis which, according to the European Union, was orchestrated by Minsk.
Thousands of Middle Eastern migrants are sheltering in freezing conditions on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, which refuse to let them through.
At least eight of them have already died and fears for the safety of others are growing as harsh winter conditions set in.
“A forestry worker informed police of the discovery of the body of a young man,” Podlaska police spokesman Tomasz Krupa told Reuters, adding that the body and the man’s passport had been found. found on Friday.
“He’s a young man of Syrian nationality of about 20 years old,” Krupa said. It was not possible to determine the cause of death at the scene, he added.
International tension is rising because of the crisis, with Belarus’s neighbors warning that the situation could escalate into military conflict and US President Joe Biden expressing concern.
Belarus said on Saturday that the number of migrants arriving at a makeshift border camp was increasing daily, and a group of around 100 had crossed into Polish territory.
Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski estimated that around 1,500 people were camping at the border.
The European Union accuses Belarus of being at the origin of the crisis in order to put pressure on the bloc on the subject of sanctions.
Minsk denies this and on Saturday Russian President Vladimir Putin, a key ally of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, said Western countries were ultimately responsible for the crisis. Read more
However, some migrants said Belarusian forces helped them cross the border.
The Polish military released images on Saturday which it said showed a group of around 50 migrants being escorted across the border by Belarusian forces.
Polish border guards said Belarusian soldiers shot down a section of the temporary border fence.
In Lithuania, border guards released footage showing 70 migrants they said were brought to the country’s border by Belarusian officials in trucks.
Poland, Austria, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia called on international aid agencies to organize humanitarian and medical assistance in Belarus to “avoid tragedies and prevent (a) a humanitarian crisis” in the Polish border.
Reporting by Felix Hoske in Bialystock, Alan Charlish and Pawel Florkiewicz in Warsaw, Joanna Plucinska in Hajnowka, Andrius Sytas in Druskininkai, Lithuania, and Tom Balmforth and Anastasia Teterevleva in Moscow; Writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Jan Harvey and Helen Popper
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