WARSAW (Reuters) – The European Union should deal with a surge in migrants by sealing its borders and rejecting any idea of relocation within the bloc, Poland’s ruling party said on Tuesday, as it took a tough stance on migration ahead of an election.
The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party, facing a challenge from a far-right party, said Poland was at risk of being overwhelmed by migrants like the Italian island of Lampedusa, where migrant boats often dock after crossing the Mediterranean from the northern coast have crossed Africa if they do not return to power in the October 15 elections.
PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a press conference: “Lampedusa is just a kind of symbol of a situation that threatens all of Europe, including Poland.”
“The only way to combat this kind of – you have to call it that – invasion is to actually and realistically seal the borders and make decisions to send those who have crossed the borders back to their home countries, or another Solution, but it is always related to getting rid of them.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is struggling with a surge in migrant arrivals, and promised a 10-point EU action plan to help Italy deal with the situation help.
Kaczynski said any announcement of the relocation of illegal migrants is an “encouragement to human traffickers.”
His comments come as the government faces accusations from the opposition that it was involved in a system in which migrants received visas at an accelerated pace without proper checks after paying off middlemen.
They also come amid growing resentment among some Poles toward refugees from neighboring Ukraine, who say the government has gone too far in extending welfare and other aid to war refugees, as well as the anger of farmers who say that Ukrainian grain imports are putting a strain on their prices.
Poland banned Ukrainian grain imports last week.
There are around a million Ukrainian refugees living in Poland. While Poles’ overall attitudes towards them remain positive and support for Kiev’s war effort is almost unanimous, research shows that critical views are becoming more widespread.
(Reporting by Pawel Florkiewicz; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)
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