A new state of emergency has been designed to stem a flow of arrivals the European Union says is orchestrated by Minsk.
At daybreak on Wednesday (11 August) some 30 migrants – including women and toddlers – started a camp fire to warm up after a night of walking through fields in northern Belarus to the frontier.
The pushback, witnessed by Reuters, occurred just hours after Latvia declared an emergency to prevent illegal migrants, mostly from the Middle East, Africa and Asia, from crossing into the EU state from Belarus.
The pushback is a response to a quickening flow of migrants arriving at the borders of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. They accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of “weaponising” migrants to put pressure on the EU to reverse sanctions, Euractiv.com reports.
International pressure on Belarus has intensified since a presidential election last year that opponents say was rigged and a crackdown on street protests which followed the vote.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.