NOMIKI, Poland (AP) — Polish officials on Friday inspected the initial installation phase of high-tech monitoring equipment along a metal wall on the border with Belarus geared toward preventing thousands of migrants from crossing into the European Union member country.
Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said that the 5.5-meter (17-feet) high wall has slashed crossing attempts tenfold. Poland’s Border Guard said the daily number of migrant crossings has dropped to a few dozen compared to thousands in 2021 and earlier this year.
Construction of the wall aimed at preventing what Polish authorities says are efforts by Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to push thousands of migrants into Poland and by extension destabilize the EU.
Crossings through difficult terrain and cold temperatures has resulted in the death of at least 27 migrants with Polish authorities frequently having to come to the rescue of groups stranded in remote marshland.
Kaminski said that together with a barrier being built on the border with Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, Poland will have “the best secured border in the European Union.”
Cameras and motion sensors have so far been installed along a 21-kilometer (13-mile) stretch of the wall. Installation of monitoring equipment along the entire 206-kilometer (128-mile) length of the wall is expected to be completed by year’s end.
The wall will help “prevent illegal migration that is politically motivated and aimed at destabilizing the situation in the region,” said Kaminski.
Referring to violent incidents at the border a year ago, Kaminski said “the situation is much, much better” now.
The minister said that a Polish firm will begin this year to install high-tech monitoring equipment along the 210-kilometer (130-mile) land border with Kaliningrad, where a razor-wire barrier is being erected. Poland says it sees signs that Russia wants to channel migrants into the country through the exclave.