Minsk earlier said the country has around 7,000 refugees and it will be responsible for sending around 5,000 home if they volunteer to leave.

Minsk said Thursday that there are now around 7,000 migrants in the ex-Soviet country.
Minsk said Thursday that there are now around 7,000 migrants in the ex-Soviet country. (Reuters)

Around 2,000 refugees who had been camped out in freezing conditions at Belarus's border with Poland have spent the night in a logistics centre after their camp was cleared by border guards.

State news agency Belta published on Friday photos of the refugees lying on mats in the facility and wrote that "for several it was their first warm night".

Thousands of refugees – mainly Iraqi Kurds – have spent months trying to get into the EU from Belarus.

West has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of engineering the crisis as retribution for sanctions imposed against his regime. 

Minsk has denied the charges.

The Belarusian border force said Thursday that it had cleared a makeshift refugee camp that had for days held 2,000 people, with the people relocated to a vast hangar near the border.

Over 1,000 people had already moved to the centre on Tuesday night.

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

Escalating crisis

Minsk said Thursday that there are now around 7,000 refugees in the ex-Soviet country.

It said that it will take responsibility for sending around 5,000 of those refugees home – if they would like to leave – and alleged that the EU will create a "humanitarian corridor" to Germany for the other around 2,000.

Germany, however, swiftly shot down that claim, and Belta reported Friday that the refugees are still hoping to make it to the EU rather than return home.

On Thursday, hundreds of Iraqis who had failed to cross into the EU from Belarus returned home on the first repatriation flight organised by Baghdad.

An Iraqi Airways plane brought 431 people home from Belarus, in a first repatriation flight.

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

Lukashenko and his Russian ally President Vladimir Putin have rejected the accusations that Belarus has orchestrated the crisis and criticised Poland for not taking the refugees in.

Polish media say at least 11 refugees have died since the crisis began in August.

On Thursday, a Polish NGO said it had found a Syrian couple who had lost their one-year-old child while sleeping in the forest on the border for a month.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies