Polish police have said that the body of a young Syrian man has been found in the woods near the border with Belarus, the latest victim in a political standoff at the European Union’s eastern border.
The government in Minsk has for months been encouraging irregular migration across the border into the EU nations of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. All three countries are reinforcing their borders, seeking to block the newly opened migration route, and the situation is growing more dangerous as winter approaches.
“Yesterday, in the woods, near the border, near Wolka Terechowska, the body of a young Syrian man was found,” police for the Podlaska region said on Twitter on Saturday.
“Activities carried out in the place where the body was found did not allow for unequivocal determination of the cause of death.”
It brings the death toll now to at least nine reported victims in the migration encouraged by Belarus’ longtime President Alexander Lukashenko.
Many of the migrants are from Syria, Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East – people seeking to flee conflict and hopelessness for the prospect of better lives in Europe. Polish border guards estimate there are currently up to 4,000 migrants camped out along the border.
After the large migration into Europe in 2015, Europe has been reinforcing its borders to discourage new arrivals. Still, every year, tens of thousands try to get in, embarking on dangerous and sometimes deadly journeys by sea and land.
Since the summer, thousands have been lured by what appeared to be a new and easier way to slip into Europe, through Belarus.
The EU accuses Lukashenko of creating the artificial route in order to retaliate for sanctions against his government imposed after an election in 2020 widely viewed as flawed and a harsh crackdown on internal dissent that followed.