Poland’s parliament votes to build border wall with Belarus to curb migrant influx

Poland’s parliament voted to build a controversial wall on its border with Belarus to block an influx of migrants who are illegally entering Poland.

Thousands of people, mostly from the Middle East and Asia have tried to cross Poland’s border in recent months.

The EU accuses Belarus’s government of driving the rise, in retaliation for sanctions against its regime.

The 5.5m wall will cost €353 million and some critics say it is a waste of money.

The legislation will now go to Poland’s president, Andrzej Duda, who is expected to sign it into law.

The wall would be equipped with motion sensors and a monitoring system and will cover about half the length of Poland’s 400km border with Belarus. The government plans to build it by next summer.

Poland says currently about 500 people are trying to cross into the country illegally from Belarus every day. There were just 120 in the whole of last year.

The EU has accused Belarus of facilitating a a route for migrants to cross its frontiers into neighbouring EU states, in response to sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on opposition and dissent.

Poland has responded to the influx by building a razor-wire fence and sending thousands of troops to secure it.

But it has been criticised for pushing back migrants and refugees at the border. It has imposed a state of emergency, effectively banning journalists and aid workers from accessing the border.

At least eight migrants have died along the Belarusian border, according to the United Nations.