Left-wing NGOs beg Brussels to halt construction of Poland’s border wall with Belarus

Guards watching the start of work on the first part of some 180 kilometers (115 miles) of a 5.5 meter (18ft) high metal wall intended to block migrants from Belarus, in Tolcze, near Kuznica, on the Polish side of the border with Belarus on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

A number of left-wing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have appealed to the European Commission, urging them to stop the construction of Poland’s border wall due to the effect it may have on the local environment.

The Granica Group, which describes itself as “a social movement that opposes the government’s responses to the events taking place on the Polish-Belarusian border,” tweeted on Tuesday that it had filed three letters of appeal with the European Commission in Brussels, claimed to have been signed by 150 organizations “all calling for the cessation of the construction of the border wall.”

Construction of the wall commenced in late January, with contractors taking no time at all in preparing the foundations for the 186-kilometer barrier on its eastern border with Belarus.

“Our intention is for the damage to be as small as possible,” border guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska told Poland’s PAP news agency at the time, in response to concerns over environmental welfare.

“Tree felling will be limited to the minimum required. The wall itself will be built along the border road,” she added.

The Polish government also assured environmentalists that there would be “over 20” crossing points for animals to minimize the disruption to their habitat.

Pro-migration and environmental groups remain convinced. Guy Debonnet, chief of the Natural Heritage Unit at UNESCO, told Reuters in January that “Poland should not move forward with this before we have the necessary assurances and our advisory body for natural heritage is convinced this can be done without impacting outstanding universal value.”

Adding to the list of critics, Anna Alboth, a member of the Granica Group, claimed that “walls are dividing, not protecting,” and called the decision to construct a barrier with Belarus a “lawless” move which “brings into risk of irreversible harm to the environment.”

Polling on the issue in August of last year showed that more Poles backed the construction of a border wall than objected to it, 48 percent to 43 percent respectively.

Many commentators back the wall’s construction and have criticized its opponents of using the excuse of environmentalism to push their pro-migration agenda.

“The world is analyzing the movements of Russian troops near Ukraine and in Belarus, where Russian-Belarusian drills are taking place. Meanwhile, ecologists want to stop defensive measures in the name of protecting the ecosystem,” lamented Marzena Nykiel, the editor-in-chief of Polish news outlet wPolityce.pl.

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