Thousands of migrants are stranded in the cold in Belarus, at the border with Poland. As the EU discusses new sanctions, the Belarusian leader threatens to cut off the gas supply.
The situation in the border region has dramatically worsened during the past few days. The Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is accused by the EU of having more and more people from crisis regions flown into the country and brought to the border. They are now stuck there. Large groups of migrants have tried in vain many times to break through the barbed wire fence system which Poland is using to try and keep them from crossing through into Poland and thereby the EU. Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya sat in the visitors’ gallery of the Bundestag as Germany’s parliament debated the deteriorating situation at the European Union’s external border between Poland and Belarus. The mood in parliament was emotional — many lawmakers vented their great outrage — and yet the demands put forward during the hour-long session could not hide the current level of political helplessness. At least 10 people have lost their lives, the Left Party lawmaker Gökay Akbulut told the Bundestag: “People who didn’t have to die.” The socialist Left Party is not only holding Belarus responsible for the situation, but also Poland. “Rejecting people who have fled without individually checking their asylum procedures is a clear breach of the Geneva Conventions, the European Convention on Human Rights, and current asylum laws in the EU,” warned Akbulut.
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