🇵🇱🇧🇾 Refugees as a bargaining chip


The Story

Poland declared a state of emergency on the Belarus border. 

Tell me.

Thousands of migrants (mainly from Afghanistan and Iraq) had crossed into Polish territory. Poland and the European Union (EU) are accusing Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko of encouraging migrants to cross into Polish territory to pressure the EU over sanctions imposed on Minsk.

What is the state of emergency about?

It bans mass gatherings and limits people's movements in a 3-km deep strip of land along the frontier for 30 days. 

What is that supposed to be good for? 

Maybe the Polish government declared the state of emergency in the first place to gain attention for a looming problem, namely that Lukashenko could use the refugees as leverage. 

Will it pay off? 

At least it did in the past. Think of Erdogan's Turkey. He used migrants as a bargaining chip, and in 2016, the European Union pledged to give Turkey 6 billion euros (To be fair, it must also be said that Turkey has taken in many refugees, about 4 million). It seems that dictator Lukashenko is planning something similar and hopes that the sanctions the EU had imposed in June this year will be relaxed.

Similarly bad. 

The victims are the refugees. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), a related organization of the United Nations, said that many migrants were "in extremely harsh conditions for several weeks." According to the IOM, the migrants stranded at the EU-Belarus border had limited access to drinking water and food, medical assistance, sanitation facilities, and shelter for several weeks. 

The Polish government is not known for its refugee-friendly policies.

That doesn't make the situation any better for the refugees. The government actions include deploying soldiers to the border, reinforcing it with razor wire, and refusing to let the stranded group apply for asylum. Not the slightest problem for the government: The common border between Poland and Belarus is 400 kilometers long!

Good luck with that. What about the other EU borders?

Two more EU countries border Belarus: Lithuania and Latvia (have a look at Google Maps). They both have deployed similar measures. In August, Latvia declared a state of emergency along its border, and also last month, Lithuania decided to erect a fence.

Sum up.

As we all know, life in Belarus is terrible at the present time. Lukashenko's attempts to blackmail the neighboring country make the situation even worse. This is a difficult situation for the EU and the countries: They shouldn't let Lukashenko get away with this inhuman strategy; also, the conflict must not be carried out on the backs of the refugees.