Fifth migrant dies on Poland-Belarus border

epa09426504 A view of the border strip on the Polish-Belarusian border in Kopczany, north-west Poland, 23 August 2021. EPA-EFE/ARTUR RESZKO POLAND OUT

An Iraqi migrant has died in Poland after being found near the border with Belarus, bringing the death toll to five this week on this eastern EU frontier.

Thousands of migrants — mostly from the Middle East — have crossed or tried to cross into the European Union from Belarus in recent months.

The EU has accused Belarus of orchestrating the influx of migrants in retaliation against EU sanctions over the regime’s crackdown on dissent.

“A group of migrants from Iraq was detained last night 500 metres (1,640 feet) from the border with Belarus,” the border guard service said on Twitter.

“One of the men died (probably of a heart attack) despite having received assistance from the patrol and an ambulance team,” it said.

Poland has come under criticism for imposing a state of emergency on the border that prevents charities from helping the migrants by banning all non-residents, including journalists.

Campaigners also say Poland is implementing a pushback policy, preventing the migrants from making asylum claims and forcing them back.

But Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in a Facebook post on Friday said Poland was providing assistance.

“We are trying to help and save the life and health of all the illegal migrants who have crossed the Polish border and who are found in time,” he wrote.

Border guards on Monday said they detected 3,500 attempted or successful border crossings in August.

So far in September, the number is more than 5,000.

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