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  01 Dec 2021, 11:19

Poland extends migrant crisis border restrictions

 WARSAW, Dec 1, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - Poland on Tuesday extended emergency
measures restricting access to its border with Belarus which is at the centre
of a migrant crisis the West blames on Minsk.

  The interior ministry announced the extension of a controversial state of
emergency that bars all non-residents -- including journalists and NGOs --
from the border area where thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants have
been blocked from entering the European Union.

  The West has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime of
orchestrating the crisis and posing a so-called hybrid threat to the EU,
which Minsk denies.

  Poland's conservative-controlled parliament on Tuesday rejected Senate
amendments allowing journalists to travel to the border and President Andrzej
Duda signed new measures allowing the interior minister to ban access to
parts of the border area depending on the situation.

  Under Polish law, a state of emergency can last three months at most. The
current measures started in September and had been due to end at midnight.

  The Polish opposition and human rights organisations say the emergency
measures give the interior ministry too much power and run against the
constitution.

  In response to the influx of migrants, Poland built a barbed wire fence and
massed thousands of soldiers along its 400-kilometre (249-mile) border with
Belarus, leaving the migrants stranded in camps.

  Polish media estimate that at least 12 people have died on both sides of
the border.

  Human Rights Watch this week said Poland shared responsibility for
migrants' "acute suffering" in the border area and accused Warsaw and Minsk
of "serious human rights violations".

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