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EU Migrant Situation Provokes Humanitarian and Geopolitical Tensions

November 12, 2021

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What's happening?

Over 1,000 people arrived at the Belarus-Poland border this week with more expected, escalating the EU migrant crisis and geopolitical tensions in the area. 

NATO and EU states have blamed the crisis on Belarus for months, saying the country is inviting migrants to Minsk and transporting them to the Polish border. This has resulted in the massive wave of stranded migrants this week. 

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Critics state that Belarus is retaliating against sanctions imposed for the country’s brutal crackdowns following a contested election victory for Alexander Lukashenko in 2020. According to The Guardian, Belarus’s actions are being observed as blackmail to force EU concessions. 

In response, Poland declared a state of emergency and approved a Trump-like border wall to deter migrants. Outfitted in riot gear, Polish police have been using violence and chemical sprays to prevent crossings. According to Poland’s defense minister, soldiers at the border have increased from 12,000 to 15,000.

The migrants are mainly Iraqi Kurds and nationals from Syria, Afghanistan, and some African countries, many of whom want to travel to Germany and avoid dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings.

Despite accusations from the EU and other countries, Lukashenko is blaming Europe and the United States for the crisis.

What's the impact?

Poland’s state of emergency has prevented aid from reaching vulnerable border areas. Due to lack of food and clean water as well as dropping temperatures, the situation could result in a humanitarian crisis at the Belarus-Poland border. 

The situation also has significant political impacts. Poland’s harsh response could worsen the country’s already fragile relationship with the EU. EU ambassadors have also accused Belarus of unconventional warfare tactics or a “hybrid attack,” and will likely impose new sanctions.

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To make matters worse, Russia, a Belarusian ally, is patrolling Belarusian airspace with Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers—planes that can carry nuclear missiles capable of bypassing state-of-the-art Western defenses. According to Reuters, Russia’s foreign minister has referred to the situation as “a spiral that is fairly dangerous.”

What can you do?

Poland’s response has prevented journalists and aid organizations from accessing border regions where the crisis is mounting. This means that timely and accurate information may be hard to access, potentially affecting national security and humanitarian organizations from responding effectively.

Open-source data is valuable in these situations. Online channels like social media provide current ground-truth information from local sources where journalists are lacking. This data can also illuminate the political or social climate in the region and track its evolution as the crisis unfolds.

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This information is necessary for intelligence teams who need to assess global conflicts and support more informed national security decisions.

Do you have the tools necessary to quickly and easily access this social data? Connect with us to learn more about OSINT solutions for geopolitical risk assessment.