Arrests after Iraqi child migrants found being smuggled in van entering Germany

The driver of the vehicle and his companion have been detained

Police have found a group of 23 migrants being smuggled into Germany in a van, shortly after it had crossed the border from Poland.

Several children were among the group, all of whom were Iraqis, during a routine police stop near the east German border town of Goerlitz on Sunday.

Authorities in Germany have registered an increase in people entering illegally from Poland in recent weeks, mostly coming via Belarus.

On Friday a 32-year-old Iraqi man was found dead when police discovered a vehicle outside the town of Schoepstal in Saxony, north of Goerlitz.

Police found the body after officers spotted about 30 people getting out of the lorry. The 42-year-old driver of the vehicle is being sought.

On Sunday, the driver of the vehicle and his companion, both believed to be Syrians, fled but were later detained and the van confiscated.

German border officials say that on some days they have picked up several hundred people entering illegally from Poland.

Many of those apprehended by police are Iraqis and Syrians who flew to Belarus and then crossed into Poland before travelling west to Germany in the hope of claiming asylum.

The European Union has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of flying migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them into the bloc on foot in retaliation for sanctions imposed over a crackdown on the country's opposition.

In October, 4,890 migrants were known to have entered Germany from Poland via Belarus, German authorities said.

A slowdown in arrivals is “currently not in sight”, a police spokesman said on Friday.

To cope with the influx, Germany has tightened border controls with Poland, with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer sending 800 extra police officers to the area.

Updated: November 1st 2021, 1:52 PM