The Polish Border Guards announced Tuesday that construction has begun on a border wall between Poland and Belarus designed to reduce unauthorized migration from Belarus. The wall is expected to be 186km in length and will cost 1.6 billion Polish zloty, or nearly 400 million USD.
A barrier between the two countries was authorized by the Polish parliament in 2021 in response to waves of migrants traveling into Poland from Belarus. The Polish government, EU and US condemned Belarus for the migration, calling it a hybrid attack on the EU that was authorized and funded by the Belarusian government in response to EU support for Belarusian anti-government protests in 2021.
While migration on the border has slowed in 2022, thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants attempted to cross into Poland in 2021 after flying into Minsk and receiving escorts to the border by Belarusian authorities. Most migrants were refused entry into Poland and were forced to wait on the border indefinitely in cold weather. Many have since returned to Belarus for repatriation to their countries of origin, though tensions on the border remain high.
Anna Michalska of the Polish Border Guards spoke to Polish media Tuesday, saying that the wall will be built to minimize environmental damage on the forested border and construction will keep tree clearing to an absolute minimum. The country estimates the wall will be finished in June 2022.