Belarus is clearing migrant camps on the border with Poland as the crisis eases

Bruzgi: Belarusian authorities have cleared the main camps where migrants had gathered on the border with Poland in what appeared to be a major development in a crisis that in recent weeks has developed into an East-West confrontation.

The Belarussian state news agency Belta said the migrants, who were sheltered in the forest, had been taken to a warehouse in Belarus away from the border on Thursday, local time. A spokesman for Polish border guards confirmed that the camps had been cleared.

A deserted migrant camp on the border between Belarus and Poland near Grodno.

A deserted migrant camp on the border between Belarus and Poland near Grodno.Credit:Belts via AP

“These camps are now empty, the migrants have most likely been taken to the transport logistics center, which is not far from the Bruzgi border crossing,” the Polish spokesman said.

“There were no other such camps … but there were groups that showed up elsewhere trying to cross the border. We’ll see what happens in the next few hours. … There are still some people around, but it is clearly being emptied. ”

European countries accuse Belarus of deliberately creating the crisis by flying in migrants from the Middle East and forcing them to try to cross the borders illegally into Poland and Lithuania. Minsk deliberately denies inciting it.

In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants per night tried to cross the border and collided with Polish troops at the border. About 10 are believed to have died in the freezing forests.

The movement to clear the camps comes within a week of intensified diplomacy. German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone twice in three days, with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, usually rejected by European leaders.

Belarus said earlier Thursday that Lukashenko had proposed to Merkel a plan to resolve the crisis, after which the EU would receive 2,000 people, while Minsk would send another 5,000 home.

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