Attempts to illegally cross from Belarus into Poland have reached their lowest level since August, during the early stages of the ongoing border crisis. On Monday this week, only 26 attempts were recorded by the Polish border guard.
Since the start of this year, almost 40,000 attempted crossings have been registered, mostly by people from the Middle East, who are assisted in their efforts to enter the European Union by the Belarusian authorities.
Almost half of those, 17,500, came in October alone, at the peak of the crisis. That number has since dropped steadily, to 8,900 in November and 1,200 so far in December, reports Interia. Previously, 7,700 were recorded in September and 3,500 in August.
W dn.20.12 granicę🇵🇱🇧🇾próbowało przekroczyć 26 osób-to od początku sierpnia najmniejsza liczba dobowych prób nielegalnego przekroczenia granicy z🇧🇾do🇵🇱.
Na odcinku ochranianym przez #placówkaSG w Białowieży grupa 10 cudzoziemców siłowo forsowała granicę. #funkcjonariuszeSG pic.twitter.com/OQyyDMz5I4
— Straż Graniczna (@Straz_Graniczna) December 21, 2021
As well as the worsening winter weather, the decline has been largely thanks to diplomatic efforts to stop flights bringing people from the Middle East to Belarus and to repatriate people from there to their home countries.
On Monday, the spokesman for Poland’s security services, Stanisław Żaryn, confirmed that around 4,000 people had returned to Syria and Iraq, leaving between 5,000 and 7,000 migrants and refugees still in Belarus.
Nonetheless, regular attempts by groups of migrants to cross into Poland have continued. “We know that the [Belarusian] regime is looking for new directions, opportunities to supply the migration route with new people,” said Żaryn, quoted by Wprost.
A spokeswoman for the Polish border guard, Anna Michalska, said that a “new method” being used by Belarus is to cut the razor-wire border fence and “send foreigners” to “behave loudly, throw stones and branches” while a second, quieter, group tries to slip through the fence unnoticed.
Poland’s tough response to the border crisis has won public support, as revealed by another poll this week. It has also been endorsed by the European Union as well as individual allies, including Germany.
Humanitarian groups have, however, accused Poland and Belarus of abusing and instrumentalising migrants. The latest to raise concern is the UN’s human rights office, which yesterday accused both countries of “violating the human rights of refugees and migrants”.
Maria Wilczek is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She is a regular writer for The Times, The Economist and Al Jazeera English, and has also featured in Foreign Policy, Politico Europe, The Spectator and Gazeta Wyborcza.