The EU must stand united in its response to the Belarusian regime’s inhuman instrumentalisation of migrants, MEPs said in a debate on Wednesday.

In a plenary debate with EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday afternoon, MEPs expressed their deep worries over the dramatic crisis currently unfolding at the Polish-Belarusian border. They also repeated their strong condemnation of the current tactics of the Belarusian dictatorial regime of funnelling migrant flows to the EU’s external borders, escalating the situation with neighbouring countries, in particular Poland, as revenge for European Union sanctions.                                                                                    Vice President Josep Borrell repeated that the European Union is currently engaging in wide ranging diplomatic efforts together with the countries of origin in order to find solutions and prevent more trafficked migrants from arriving in this way. At the same time, he stressed that Belarus authorities must provide humanitarian assistance to the people trapped in the Belarusian border area, including providing access for humanitarian organisations to the region and to allow for humanitarian corridors. He also announced an upcoming discussion on expanded EU sanctions.

Migrants trapped between security forces

During the debate, several MEPs voiced alarm over the deteriorating humanitarian situation at the Polish-Belarusian border, with people trapped between border forces being exposed to winter weather conditions. They urged the Polish authorities to end the ongoing aggressive pushbacks of migrants back into Belarus, and to accept assistance from the EU’s agencies in handling the humanitarian situation, deploring that this support has been refused so far. Other MEPs focused on the urgent need for aid organisations to have direct access to the Polish-Belarusian border in order to help the migrants stranded there.                    Some parliamentarians called for EU funds to be used to build a fence to protect the Union’s external borders from irregular crossings and hybrid attacks, while others firmly rejected the idea. Other MEPs stressed the need for more EU sanctions against Belarus while highlighting the Russian government’s “behind the scenes role” in the ongoing crisis, calling for dialogue with Moscow to find solutions.