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Belarus border clashes: Does Poland act with reckless disregard for human life?

DW, 17 Nov 2021
Security forces in Poland on Tuesday deployed water cannons and used tear gas on migrants who attempted to cross the Polish-Belarusian border. Poland's Border Guard said migrants had been throwing objects at security personnel. In posts on Twitter, the border protection agency said water cannons had been used "against aggressive foreigners."

Polish police said an officer was seriously injured in the confrontation, which they say was stirred up by Belarus, stating in a tweet: "Unfortunately, as a result of an attack by people inspired by the Belarusian side, a police officer has been seriously injured." On Tuesday, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe, Dunja Mijatovic, called for deescalation and access for aid workers and media to the border region.

"We need to step aside and think what is happening at the European border, why are these people left in limbo and what can be done in order to stop this extremely dangerous situation," she said. She added that what Belarus was doing in transporting refugees to the border was "absolutely unacceptable." Limited access to the area due to Poland's state of emergency has presented a challenge to the media, in terms of independently verifying versions of events.

Russia has condemned Poland's use of force, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov telling media in Moscow: "The behavior of the Polish side is absolutely unacceptable." According to Russian media, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has discussed the humanitarian situation with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg lent his support to Poland, saying the defense alliance was concerned about Lukashenko's using migrants as a "hybrid tactic" against other countries. "We stand in solidarity with Poland and other affected allies," Stoltenberg told members of the media. The European Union has accused the Lukashenko regime of orchestrating the crisis and has agreed on a new framework for expanded sanctions.

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