A tractor used by refugees heads towards the borders of Belarus and Poland during a migrant attempt to cross the border from Poland, on the Baltic Sea’s coast in Lublin, Poland, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Members of Poland’s border guard fired water cannons on migrants trying to cross the country’s southern border with Belarus early Saturday as the recent European migrant crisis revealed further lingering strains in the union’s open borders policy.
Video footage obtained by the wire services showed some of the first attempts to cross the border were met with at least seven volley of water cannon fire and stones and bottles.
The migrants, most from Afghanistan, were reportedly trying to reach Germany and Lithuania through the territory of Belarusian neighbor Slovakia. They were then expected to cross into Ukraine.
Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski told ZDF TV station Saturday that 12 migrants had been arrested.
Three people died after smugglers sent them in the wrong direction by bus from Germany to Austria at the end of April, and 17 others died while trying to cross the Balkan Peninsula in dangerous, overcrowded boats from Greece to western Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month he would push European allies to take on a greater role in the refugee crisis that has helped spread war in Syria.
Warsaw and other EU member states have struggled to integrate their eastern neighbors, which have seen a rise in anti-migrant sentiment that is on the rise in many Western European countries.
Faced with the rising tide of anti-immigrant sentiment, more and more EU members, including Greece, Bulgaria and Hungary, have announced plans to build razor-wire fences and to build off-shore detention facilities.
And yet more and more countries are admitting migrants, and some of the worst incidents of violence have occurred in countries like Hungary and Poland.
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