Poland turns water cannon on migrants, crisis stokes East-West tension

Poland turns water cannon on migrants, crisis stokes East-West tension
# 17 November 2021 08:11 (UTC +04:00)

Polish security forces fired water cannon at rock-throwing migrants on the border with Belarus on Tuesday, and NATO reiterated its support for Warsaw in a crisis that has left thousands stranded on the frontier in icy temperatures, APA reports ciitng Reuters.

Video footage released by Polish authorities showed migrants also throwing bottles and logs across a barbed-wire border fence, and using sticks to try to break through.

Seven police were hurt in the violence, the latest in a crisis the European Union says is orchestrated by Belarus - an ally of Russia - in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed over a crackdown on political protests, a charge that Minsk denies.

Up to 4,000 migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, are now waiting in freezing forests on what is not only Poland's frontier but is also the external border of the EU and NATO, the Western military alliance.

"We are deeply concerned about the way the (Belarusian leader Alexander) Lukashenko regime is using vulnerable migrants as a hybrid tactic against other countries," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told alliance defence ministers meeting in Brussels. "We stand in solidarity with Poland and all the allies affected."

Lithuania and Latvia, which like Poland are members of NATO and the EU, have also reported a sharp increase in attempts to cross from Belarus since summer.

At least eight migrants have died at the border during the crisis. One, a 19-year-old Syrian man, was buried on Tuesday in the northeastern Polish village of Bohoniki. read more

A nine-year old Kurdish boy who has had both legs amputated was among those stuck between the lakes, swamps and forests at the frontier after Poland refused to let them in and Belarusian forces prevented them heading back.

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