WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Polish lawmakers on Friday approved the rapid construction of a $ 402 million barrier on the European Union’s border with Belarus to stop the growing flow of migrants.
Now, the plan proposed by the right-wing government only needs the approval of President Andrzej Duda, a government ally. Construction of the wall with motion sensors begins after approval.
Poland and other EU countries accuse the Belarusian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging and helping migrants from the Middle East and Africa to seek entry into the EU across their borders with Belarus. He says the government in Minsk is working to destabilize the entire bloc in retaliation for Western sanctions.
Some migrants, mostly from Iraq and Syria, have died of exhaustion near Poland’s border with Belarus, which runs more than 400 kilometers (250 miles) through forest, swamps and along the Bug River.
Poland erected a wire fence at the border and sent thousands of border guards, soldiers and police, but the measures failed to stop the influx of migrants. Border guards have also pushed migrants back across the border, including some families with children, and the new Polish law allows this.
Poland is also in talks with the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, on plans to transport migrants back to their home countries.
Migrants arriving in any EU country can apply for international protection or asylum that will cover the whole of the EU, but in most cases applications are rejected.