EU leadership calls for new sanctions against Belarus as migrant crisis on Polish border escalates

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen has called for new sanctions against Belarus citing the migrant situation on Poland. The restrictions are needed to avoid “a humanitarian crisis and ensure safe returns,” she claimed.

The call for sanctions was made late on Monday after the EC chief discussed the ongoing crisis with the Prime Ministers of Belarus’ immediate neighbors – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

“I am calling on Member States to finally approve the extended sanctions regime on the Belarusian authorities responsible for this hybrid attack,” von der Leyen said in a statement.

The EU will in particular explore how to sanction, including through blacklisting, third country airlines that are active in human trafficking.

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The EU Commission will also reach the UN and “its specialized agencies” to explore the options on “how to prevent a humanitarian crisis from unfolding and to ensure that migrants can be safely returned to their country of origin,” von der Leyen added.

Earlier in the day, at least 3,000 migrants approached the Polish border from the Belarusian side, seeking their way into the EU. The emergence of the crowd was blasted by Polish authorities, which branded it the biggest-ever attempt to enter the country “by force”.

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