BERLIN (AP) — The German government on Friday called for the “humane” treatment of migrants at the European Union’s external border with Belarus.
Thousands of people from Syria, Iraq and other conflict-ridden countries have traveled to Belarus in recent months in the hope of crossing into Poland. From there, many aim to seek shelter in other EU countries such as Germany.
The 27-nation bloc has accused Belarus of helping the migrants in an effort to put pressure on the EU, which has placed sanctions on the government of authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Human rights groups, meanwhile, have criticized Poland’s treatment of the migrants, who are pushed back to Belarus despite worsening weather conditions.
A spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that Lukashenko was “instrumentalizing refugees and migrants, and that is totally unacceptable.”
“At the same time effective border protection must always uphold humanitarianism and applicable law,” Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.
“From the point of view of the German government, the most important thing is that the people who are now at the border … get the necessary support quickly, especially now when temperatures are dropping,” he said. “Humane solutions for these people have to be found quickly.”
He said Merkel had discussed the issue with Poland’s prime minister during a visit to Warsaw last month.
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