The Polish Council of Ministers has approved a bill to spend $ 404 million (£ 294 million) building a wall on the border with Belarus to prevent migrants from entering Poland.
“The Council of Ministers has just passed a draft law on the construction of state border security, which was presented by the Ministry of Interior and Administration,” said Poland’s Interior and Administration Minister Mariusz Kaminski on Twitter.
According to the minister, a draft for the creation of a “solid, high barrier” equipped with a surveillance and traffic detection system has been submitted to the Polish parliament.
The announcement comes amid a surge in the number of migrants trying to enter the Polish country. In support of the law, the government claimed on its website that attempts to cross the Polish-Belarusian border had not abated, despite the deployment of border guards, soldiers and makeshift facilities.
During a joint meeting of the National Defense Committee and the Internal Affairs Committee on Wednesday, the Deputy Minister of the Sejm (Lower House of Parliament) Maciej Wąsik suggested that the massive dam on the border would effectively control the influx.
Poland began building a barbed wire fence along its border with Belarus in August to stop the border crossings. The Polish government is accused of treating asylum seekers inhumanly and pushing back Afghan migrants.
Recently, the German police reported an increase in the number of migrants entering Germany, a popular destination for asylum seekers. However, to get to Germany, the migrants first cross the Belarusian-Polish border and then continue their journey west through Poland.
Poland, as well as Eastern European countries such as Latvia and Lithuania, have reported an increase in the influx of migrants from Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Poland and Belgium have claimed that the crossings from Belarus are a form of hybrid warfare to put pressure on the European Union for sanctions against Minsk. In September, Warsaw accused Moscow and Minsk of orchestrating a wave of illegal immigration after four migrants were found dead on the Belarusian border.
“This phenomenon, which we recently saw there, is a kind of weaponization of migration,” said Marcin Przydacz, Poland’s deputy foreign minister.
The European Union has hit Belarus with several economic sanctions, accusing President Alexander Lukashenko of violating citizens’ rights, conducting raids and stealing the country’s elections.
From January to the end of September, the Polish border guards prevented 9,287 attempts to cross the border from Belarus, around 8,000 of them in the last two months alone.
“Due to the extraordinary urgency of the implementation of the investment, given the existing threats at the state border, the draft law assumes that it will come into effect the day after its announcement,” said the government.
The rights group Amnesty International claimed last month that satellite images were used to locate 32 people, including a 15-year-old girl and four women, in Poland on August 18 after entering Poland from Belarus. A day later the group was sent back to the Belarusian side of the border.