The German government has rejected the call by the Belarusian head of state Alexander Lukashenko to accept 2,000 refugees stuck on the border with Poland. This is not a “solution that is acceptable for Germany or the EU,” said government spokesman Steffen Seibert on Monday. According to the state news agency Belta, Lukashenko had previously criticized the EU for refusing to hold talks about accepting the refugees.

Germany and the EU accuse Lukashenko of deliberately smuggling migrants to the borders of the EU states Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in retaliation for sanctions. In the Belarusian-Polish border area, thousands of people, especially from the Middle East, are currently stuck in freezing temperatures. Around 2,000 were placed in a logistics center near the border by the Belarusian authorities.

Lukashenko rejected the allegation of smuggling again on Monday. In return, he accused the EU of breaking its word. The German Chancellor Angela “Merkel has promised me that she will examine this problem at EU level,” said the Belarusian President, who had spoken to Merkel twice on the phone last week. “But they don’t.” Looking at the 2,000 refugees in the warehouse, Lukashenko said, according to Belta: “We have to ask the Germans to take them in”.

Last week, with reference to Merkel, the Belarusian leadership spoke of a “humanitarian corridor to Germany”. Seibert now said that Merkel had phoned Lukashenko “because there is a dire humanitarian situation along the Belarusian-Polish border”. “And because, of course, the attempt must always be made to find solutions in the interests of the people who persevere in very, very difficult circumstances.” In 2021, the German Federal Police detected a total of 10,128 illegal entries with a connection to Belarus.

Meanwhile, according to the Polish border guards, a group of around 150 migrants tried in vain to break through the border barriers from Belarus and enter the EU illegally. The incident occurred at night near the town of Dubicze Cerkiewne, the authority tweeted on Monday. “The attack on the Polish border was overseen by the Belarusian security forces.” Since Poland does not allow journalists into the area, the information cannot be verified.

It is unclear how things will go on with the migrants in Belarus in the long term. Experts from the World Health Organization are currently in Belarus. They wanted to clarify how the WHO could help in the crisis. According to the authorities, around 100 migrants have already been taken to hospitals, including people with pneumonia. There is great concern about a corona outbreak in the emergency accommodation.

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