William Nattrass William Nattrass

Fortress Europe is dreading the Afghan migrant crisis

Fortress Europe is pulling up the drawbridge. The takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban is likely to being about a new wave of refugees heading west, and so walls and fences are being hastily built around the borders of the Schengen Area. As scars inflicted by the last migrant crisis re-open, the possibility of a new influx of refugees is causing deep apprehension throughout the EU.

At Usnarz Gorny, on Poland’s border with Belarus, the migrant crisis is already beginning. Twenty four Afghan migrants currently sit stranded in no man’s land between Polish and Belarusian border guards. Left without food or clean drinking water for weeks on end, their situation has become a no-win moral dilemma for the Polish government.

The migrants are among the many thousands duped by the Belarusian authorities. As part of a ‘hybrid warfare’ waged by the dictator Alexander Lukashenko against the EU, Belarus has been enticing refugees from Afghanistan and other countries and sending them across the border into Europe. Poland, Lithuania and Latvia have now seen huge increases in migrants from war-torn countries in recent months.

For Poland, there can be no good outcome from the drama unfolding in Usnarz Gorny. The government faces a choice between accepting the migrants – and in so doing encouraging the hostile actions of the Belarusian regime – or leaving them stranded in dire circumstances on the country’s doorstep.

There is little to suggest attitudes in the region to migration have changed since 2015

In the wake of the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan, the case has taken on a wider dimension. It is also being seen as a litmus test of the attitude of the country – and the wider central European region – towards a potential new wave of mass migration from the East.

When over a million migrants crossed the Mediterranean to reach Europe in 2015, central European countries refused to help the EU deal with the crisis.

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