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Polish government estimate 7,000 migrants remain in Belarus

The Polish government announced on Tuesday that it estimates some 7,000 migrants hoping to reach the EU remain in neighbouring Belarus.

Warsaw, 7 December 2021 (dpa/MIA) – The Polish government announced on Tuesday that it estimates some 7,000 migrants hoping to reach the EU remain in neighbouring Belarus.

“We estimate that the Lukashenko regime sent back about 3,000 migrants to Iraq and Syria, but considerably more, about 7,000, are still on the territory of Belarus,” intelligence services spokesperson Stanislaw Zaryn told the PAP news agency on Tuesday.

At present, the number of illegal border crossing attempts on Poland’s border with Belarus was decreasing, Zaryn said, adding that it would be premature to say that the crisis was over.

Belarusian security forces continue to send smaller groups of migrants to the border in order to find less secure sections where they could cross illegally into the EU, Zaryn said.

On Tuesday, the Polish border guard reported 116 illegal border crossing attempts within 24 hours.

A fresh repatriation flight from Belarus to Iraq was planned for later on Tuesday, followed by a flight to Syria on Wednesday, according to an announcement by Minsk airport made on the social network Telegram.

However, many migrants on the border still hope to continue their journey to Europe and are refusing to return to their home countries, the Belarusian state news agency Belta reported.

For weeks, thousands of migrants and refugees have been trying to cross the EU’s external borders from Belarus, with a goal of first reaching either Poland, Lithuania or Latvia.

The EU has accused Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko of deliberately flying people from war-torn countries to Minsk, before encouraging them to mass at the EU border in an effort to destabilize the bloc in retaliation for the economic sanctions it has imposed on his government.

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