By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Friday’s decision came as at least eight asylum seekers died in recent weeks along the Belarusian border, often due to exhaustion and hypothermia as winter sets in, according to United Nations sources.
Despite hardships, thousands of people – mainly from the Middle East and Asia – have tried to cross Poland’s border in recent months.
And, critics say, the 353 million euro ($407 million) spend on the 5.5 meters (18 feet) high wall is “a waste of money.”
“In the end, it may extend the time that makes the journey even more difficult. But it’s not really an effective way to deal with the situation,” argued Barbora Cernusakova, a researcher with rights group Amnesty International.
“What we know from the past experiences at other borders is that it [a wall] makes very little difference,” Cernusakova added.
Polish opposition legislators have condemned the wall as too costly.
But nationalist Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who admired previous U.S. President Donald Trump, said Thursday the wall was essential to “protect” Poland.
His government claims about 500 people are trying to cross into the country illegally from Belarus every day. There were reportedly just 120 in the whole of last year.
The wall legislation, comparable to Trump’s famed Mexico Wall project, will now go to Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, who is due to sign it into law.
The wall – equipped with motion sensors and a monitoring system – will cover about half the length of Poland’s 400 kilometers (250 miles) border with Belarus. The government plans to build it by next summer.
Poland, an EU member state, has asked Brussels to pay for the wall. Similar requests have come from countries such as Poland’s ally Hungary, which has been building a massive wall along its southern border with Serbia.
Eight other member states have joined an appeal asking the EU to pay for “barriers” to block migrants from entering.
But EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has refused to pick up the tab amid a standoff over perceived rule-of-law violations in Poland and Hungary.
It also comes amid allegations that migrants seeking refuge have been illegally deported from the European Union by Polish border troops.
In footage seen by Worthy News, Michael, a Catholic father of three from Sri Lanka, was close to tears when recalling the icy reception from Polish border guards. “I asked to call my wife. ‘Please one single minute call,’ I asked. But they refused,” he recalled. “I pray to God that I will make it [into the EU]. I am a Catholic. And I’ve made it,” he said, his voice trembling.
Following criticism that it is pushing back migrants and refugees at the border, Poland stepped up efforts to close the area to the outside world.
It has imposed a state of emergency, effectively banning journalists and aid workers from accessing the border to meet those suffering amid a new looming refugee crisis in Europe.
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