Army flies out to help ease Belarus plight

·1-min read
Belarusian Red Cross employees hand over humanitarian aid to migrants (AP)
Belarusian Red Cross employees hand over humanitarian aid to migrants (AP)

More desperate migrants attempted to cross from Belarus into Poland today as the UK prepared to send 150 army Royal Engineers to shore up the border.

The deployment was announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who said a small reconnaissance team of engineers had already been to the area to assess the situation.

“This is not combat — this is support to the Poles,” he told the BBC on a visit to Poland.

Western powers have accused Belarus’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, of facilitating the arrival of migrants and sending them towards the Polish border in revenge for EU sanctions imposed in June.

He has denied the allegations.

In an apparent change of tack, Belarus authorities yesterday cleared the main camps where thousands of migrants had huddled at the border in freezing conditions.

Hundreds, including young children, were taken to a transport and logistics centre near the Bruzgi border point in the Grodno region. In another potential sign of the crisis easing, hundreds of Iraqis checked in at a Minsk airport to fly back to Iraq, the first repatriation flight since August.

However, Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak today said more migrants made efforts to cross the border overnight, although the groups were smaller than in previous days.

Meanwhile, seven migrants were killed and eight others injured after the vehicle they were travelling in crashed near a motorway toll station in northern Greece.

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