EU chief diplomat tells Belarus not to use people as weapons

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – The European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei discussed a migrant crisis on the Polish border and European sanctions against Minsk by phone on Sunday.

Borrell wrote on Twitter that he had raised “the precarious humanitarian situation at the border with the EU”.

“Peoples lives must be protected and humanitarian agencies allowed access,” he wrote. “The current situation is unacceptable and must stop. People should not be used as weapons.”

The EU and Belarus held talks the day before the EU plans to impose new sanctions on Minsk to include airlines and travel agencies thought to be involved in bringing migrants to the bloc’s border.

“Futility of sanctions was highlighted… by the Belarusian side,” the Belarusian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Thousands of migrants have travelled to Belarus in the hope of crossing into the European Union (EU), only to find themselves trapped on the border in freezing conditions.

“Peoples lives must be protected and humanitarian agencies allowed access,” he wrote. “The current situation is unacceptable and must stop. People should not be used as weapons.”

Europe accuses Belarus of mounting “a hybrid attack” by flying in migrants and pushing them to cross illegally into Poland. Belarus has repeatedly denied the accusation.

Makei informed his counterpart about steps taken by Belarus to reduce the migrant flow and providing them with humanitarian aid on the border, the ministry said.

Reporting by Maria Tsvetkova; Editing by Hugh Lawson

Reuters

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