At least 4,000 asylum seekers from the Middle East are currently stranded at the Polish border in freezing weather as they try to enter the EU via Poland and Lithuania. Earlier this month, a teenager died of hypothermia, as ice temperatures at night can drop to minus three degrees Celsius.
Eight people have reportedly died since the start of what was labeled a migrant crisis by the bloc.
However, Polish activists believe that number could be higher.
The European Union has accused Belarus of carrying out a “hybrid attack” to destabilize the bloc by flying thousands of migrants from war-torn areas and urging them to cross the border into the EU illegally.
Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish defense minister, told Radio Jedynka of Poland on Wednesday that resolving the crisis could take months.
Mr Błaszczak said: “We must prepare for the fact that the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border will not be resolved quickly.
“We have to prepare for months.
“I hope not for years.”
Poland declared a state of emergency on the border and denied access to media and humanitarian agencies.
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Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, said on Wednesday: “I have told the president of Germany that Poland will not recognize any arrangements on the situation at the Polish-Belarusian border that will be made over our heads.”
In the same vein, Josep Borrell, a spokesman for the EU’s foreign minister, said: “Lukashenko has no legitimacy for the EU, he cannot be considered president because he manipulated the last presidential elections in August 2020.
“He is on the list of EU sanctions for election fraud, human rights violations and continued repression of his population.”
However, the EU has agreed to donate € 700,000 (£ 590,000) to deliver food, blankets, hygiene and first aid kits to asylum seekers trapped at the border.
Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said: “Europe is on the side of the people trapped on the border with Belarus.
“We are ready to do more. But the Belarusian regime must stop luring people and risk their lives. “