Calling for a de-escalation, aid agencies say that at least 10 migrants have died on the Poland-Belarus border so far as temperatures drop below freezing.

Poland has refused to allow the migrants in and has accused Belarus of preventing them from leaving.
Poland has refused to allow the migrants in and has accused Belarus of preventing them from leaving. (Reuters)

The EU and Belarusian foreign policy chiefs have spoken directly about the border migrant crisis for the first time.

Josep Borrell said he had spoken to Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on Sunday by phone about "the precarious humanitarian situation" at the Belarus-Poland border - the EU's eastern frontier.

The development came as Brussels prepares to impose sweeping new sanctions for human trafficking that Minsk said would be futile and "counter-productive".

"The current situation is unacceptable and must stop. People should not be used as weapons," Borrell said in a tweet.

READ MORE: Tensions high at Poland-Belarus border as EU considers sanctions on Minsk


In Belarus's statement about the conversation, Makei said any sanctions would be "hopeless" and "counter-productive".

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East are camped out on the EU-Belarus border, creating a stand-off between the EU and US on one side and Belarus and its ally Russia on the other.

Western countries accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's regime of engineering the crisis by encouraging migrants to come to Belarus and then taking them to the border since the summer.

Belarus denies the charges and blames the West.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also rejected accusations of being involved in the crisis and has urged the EU to speak directly to Belarus.

READ MORE: Polish police: Asylum seekers break through Belarus border

Migrants detained 

Poland earlier on Sunday said dozens of migrants were detained after crossing from Belarus and warned of a possible larger breakthrough.

Aid agencies say at least 10 migrants have died on the border so far and have warned of a humanitarian crisis unfolding as temperatures drop below freezing, urging a de-escalation.

On the Belarusian side, officials said there are 2,000 migrants including pregnant women and children in the biggest camp near the village of Bruzgi.

READ MORE: Who are the Iraqis at the center of the EU-Belarus refugee dispute?

More sanctions on Belarus

EU foreign ministers are also due to meet on Monday to widen the sanctions already imposed on Belarus.

Borrell said ministers would approve sanctions on anyone taking part in migrant trafficking, including airlines, travel agencies and officials.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said one of the measures being envisaged was the "complete closure of the border to cut off the regime from any economic benefits".

READ MORE: Putin: West, not Minsk, behind Belarus-Poland border crisis

Source: TRTWorld and agencies