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Migrants with children stranded at the Polish border wall; activists say Belarus won’t let them turn back

Warsaw, Poland — WARSAW, Poland (AP) —

A group of around 30 asylum-seeking migrants, including small children, have been stranded at the border wall between Poland and Belarus for three days, Polish human rights activists said on Sunday.

Although the migrants were outside the Polish border wall, activists from the Grupa Granica (Border Group) said they were on Polish territory and that Belarus would not allow them to turn back.

“In Belarus they are not safe,” said activist Marta Staniszewska.

“Belarusian services, as this group told us, are threatening them that if they come back they will be beaten or they will kill them,” Staniszewska told The Associated Press.

The migrants say several of them are sick, a girl has a toothache and the children have mosquito bites, according to Staniszewska.

A representative of Poland’s ombudsman’s office visited and spoke to the group on Sunday, but later told reporters that the decision to allow them into the country was up to Polish border guards.

“If these people are indeed under the jurisdiction of the (Polish) border guards and declare their willingness to apply for international protection, then … these applications should be granted,” said Maciej Grzeskowiak.

Last year, Poland erected nearly 190 kilometers (117 miles) of high metal wall intended to prevent thousands of migrants from Asia and Africa from entering the country from Belarus.

The European Union has accused authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of facilitating illegal border crossings in retaliation for EU sanctions. Lukashenko denies encouraging migration to Europe.

Poland’s most powerful politician, leader of Poland’s right-wing ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, recently said building the wall was a good decision. He said this protected Poland and the EU against hostile moves from Belarus and Russia.

Despite the wall, up to 150 migrants of various nationalities, often with Russian visas in their documents, try to enter Poland illegally every day, according to border guards.

On some occasions, these groups threw stones and sticks behind the wall at the border guards, but then apparently walked away. It is not possible, on the Polish side, to determine what happens to the groups.

ABC News

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