Thursday December 09, 2021

Germany mulls tighter Polish border measures amid migration spike

Published : 26 Oct 2021, 00:01

  DF News Desk

Horst Seehofer, Federal Minister of the Interior, speaks at a press conference Press conference on migration. File Photo: Britta Pedersen/Zentralbild/dpa.

Germany's interior minister has said he is prepared to boost the number of federal police officers at the Polish border to help combat a rise in illegal migration from Belarus, reported dpa.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that 800 German police officers were already deployed on the border and more could arrive "if necessary."

Seehofer also said border checks could be re-introduced if the situation does not ease. According to its own data, the German Federal Police registered 3,751 unauthorized entries from Belarus so far for the month of October.

Meanwhile, German police late on Saturday cracked down on right-wing extremists who had converged on the border to take vigilante action against arriving migrants.

Normally there are no passport or border controls when travelling from one country to another within Europe's 26-member Schengen Area, but those checks can be temporarily reinstated in the event of a threat.

The number of migrants trying to enter the European Union illegally via Belarus has grown significantly in recent months, with countries on the eastern edge if the bloc, including Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, bearing the brunt of the influx.

Germany's border with Poland has, in turn, become a hotspot of illegal migration via what is being called the "Belarus route" to the EU.

German police said there had been 1,922 illegal entries from October 1-20 alone. The migrants often came originally from Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran, the police added.

Seehofer recently proposed joint German-Polish border patrols but Warsaw has so far been non-committal.

On Saturday night, German police tracked down around 50 individuals believed to be associated with the far-right splinter group The Third Way, who had apparently heeded a call made by the group in the eastern state of Brandenburg for action against migrants at the German-Polish border.

The police said it seized pepper sprays, a bayonet, a machete and batons. Criminal proceedings were initiated against their owners, for, among other things, using symbols of illegal organizations. The suspects were all ordered to leave the border region.

"We prevented private individuals from claiming the state's monopoly on the use of force, and we will continue to do so in the future," police spokesman Maik Kettlitz told dpa after the operation.

Saxony's State Premier Michael Kretschmer praised the operation on Sunday, saying that right-wing extremists must be shown "clear boundaries."

"That was what happened tonight. And that was what needed to happen tonight."

Kretschmer also attacked Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko as the creator of the border crisis. "If we allow ourselves to be blackmailed by such a person, then we as the European Union have no chance." Speaking of "state-organized human trafficking," Kretschmer called for sanctions against airlines bringing the migrants to Belarus.

In the border town of Guben, meanwhile, a 24-hour vigil against racism and for the right to asylum was set to continue until Sunday afternoon.

"We don't want to leave the region to the neo-Nazis. We want to send a signal that asylum is and remains a human right," said a statement by the organizers. Around 120 people were present at the start of the vigil on Saturday, according to the police, with numbers dwindling overnight.