Poland’s border guards detain 34 people from Middle East found in a lorry

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Polish border guards have detained 34 people from the Middle East, including four women and four children, who were traveling in a trailer of the lorry that came from Turkey via Slovakia, authorities said on Saturday.

They were detained on Friday night and are being held at the border guards station in Bielsko-Biala, a spokesman for the regional border guards service in southern Poland Szymon Moscicki said.

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He said the detainees were thought to be citizens of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Kurds from Turkey. It was not immediately clear where they ultimately aimed to travel.

Even though migrant flows to Poland never reached the same scale as in neighboring Germany, immigration was a campaign topic ahead of the 2015 general election, helping the Law and Justice (PiS) party to take over power.

The conservative-nationalist government has said it has restricted entry to refugees due to security concerns. Politicians often use the word “migrants” as a blanket term, rather than “refugees”.

Last month the UN Refugee Agency urged Poland to help people fleeing war and persecution after Europe’s human rights court ruled Warsaw had broken an international convention by denying asylum procedures to refugees.

Since 2016 the annual number of asylum applications has fallen to 4,000 a year from 8,000-14,000 before, according to one non-governmental organization in Poland.

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