The refugees and migrants who were camped in the cold on the Poland-Belarus border have been moved to a nearby warehouse in Belarusian territory.

Around ten people are believed to have died in the freezing woods at the Belarus-Poland border.
Around ten people are believed to have died in the freezing woods at the Belarus-Poland border. (AP)

Belarus authorities have cleared the main camps where migrants had huddled at the border with Poland, in what appeared to be a major development in a crisis that has spiralled in recent weeks.

Belarus state news agency Belta on Thursday said the migrants sheltering in the forest had been brought to a warehouse in Belarus away from the frontier. A spokesperson for Polish border guards confirmed the camps had been cleared.

"These camps are now empty, the migrants have been taken most likely to the transport-logistics centre which is not far from the Bruzgi border crossing," the Polish spokesperson said.

"There were no other such camps ... but there were groups appearing in other places trying to cross the border. We'll see what happens in the next hours.

... There are still some people around, but it's clearly emptying out."

READ MORE: Iraqis check-in to fly back home after deadlock at Poland-Belarus border

Backdoor diplomacy

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone twice in three days the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, normally shunned by European leaders.

Belarus said earlier on Thursday Lukashenko had proposed a plan to Merkel to resolve the crisis, under which the EU would take in 2,000 people while Minsk would send another 5,000 back home.

There was no immediate response from the EU to the announcement of that plan. However, shortly before it was announced, the European Commission said there could be no negotiation with Belarus over the plight of the migrants.

European countries accuse Belarus of having deliberately created the crisis by flying in migrants from the Middle East and pushing them to attempt to cross the borders illegally into Poland and Lithuania. Minsk denies deliberately fomenting it.

In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants per night have tried to cross the frontier and have clashed with Polish troops at the border. Around ten are believed to have died in the freezing woods.

The move to clear the camps comes during a week of intensified diplomacy.

Hundreds of Iraqis who have camped for weeks at Belarus' borders with the EU checked in for a flight back to Iraq earlier on Thursday, the Iraqi foreign ministry said. 

READ MORE: Poland detains scores of refugees at Belarus border

Source: Reuters