Caroline ReddingtonTuesday, December 14, 2021
The Poland-Belarus border crisis, although it hadn’t received a lot of media attention until November 2021, started in July of 2021. The standoff between Polish border police and migrants has become so violent (and now, cold) that it is considered the worst border crisis affecting the European Union in a very long time.
This crisis is an overflow of migrants coming from the Middle East, Belarus, and Africa, caused indirectly by a worsening relationship between Belarus and the European Union. In July of 2021, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to help human traffickers, drugs, and armed migrants to the EU. Recently released information is evidence that his threat was not an empty one, and his plan to follow through with this threat was quite elaborate. Over the past few months, Belarus tourist companies controlled by directly by the government have been promoting travel to Belarus mainly to people in the Middle East, targeting people desperate to leave their home countries. The main plan (what we know of it) is that these migrants were presented with Belarusian visas so that they would be allowed into Belarus and then from there would be pressured to try to cross the Polish border. By trying to cross the border illegally, they would incite chaos for Polish border police, therefore causing problems for the EU. Most of these migrants are coming from war-torn or unstable countries who are just taking the opportunity to have a better life. President Lukashenko and his allies are taking advantage of these people and using them as political weapons because they're desperate to get to Europe. These migrants are stuck in dire conditions whenever the violence and the weather at the border worsens, with specialists saying that it might take months to completely eliminate the chaos at the border.
The country of Belarus has been experiencing political unrest and has been under what has basically been a dictatorship for about 27 years. Belarus and the European Union have had a strenuous relationship, mostly due to President Lukashenko. He is Europe’s longest-serving ruler and is often described as Europe’s last dictator. He's known to have rigged the past few elections to keep himself in power, made sure that the economy remains in the state’s hands, and has used police and other violent supporters to keep citizens and political opponents in line. The latest victims are the thousands of people stuck at the border.