Poland has declared a state of emergency on the Belarusian border as thousands are fleeing
People trying to enter Poland from Belarus are warned that they will be “poisoned” and told to return across the border.
Text messages sent to people in the Bialowieza Forest between the two countries on the European Union’s eastern border say they have been lied to by Belarusian authorities.
Jack Parrock, a journalist reporting from the region, received a message from Polish authorities stating: “The Polish border is sealed. The BLR authorities told you lies. Go back to Minsk! Do not take tablets from Belarusian soldiers. “
A link to the Polish government website attached to the message states that crossing the border “is a crime punishable by imprisonment”.
It goes on to say: “Don’t risk it! Go back to Minsk! Go home again! Save your life and your health! Do not take pills or medication given to you in Belarus. You could be poisoned! “
Poland has declared a state of emergency on the Belarusian border as migrants from countries like Afghanistan and Iraq try to cross the border.
Brussels and Warsaw say it is a form of hybrid warfare designed to put pressure on the bloc over the sanctions it has imposed on Minsk. The Polish border guards said CNN that 739 tried to get to Poland on Saturday; the highest daily number to date in the wake of the worsening crisis.
About 16,000 attempts to illegally cross the Polish-Belarusian border have been stopped since August, the Polish border authority said. Of these, 5,000 took place in October.
It is feared that thousands of migrants, including children, are trapped in the Bialowieza Forest, where temperatures drop to freezing overnight.