NAREWKA / OSLO (VG) Here, desperate migrants fleeing Syria recount how they ended up in a forest between Belarus and Poland.
Chaos reigns on the border between Poland and Belarus. Poland has deployed more than 12,000 soldiers and border guards to stem the flow of migrants. Helicopters, tear gas and barbed wire will stop thousands of desperate people.
According to the NTB, Polish authorities say they fear an armed escalation at the border.
– We estimate that there will be an escalation of this type of incident on the Polish border in the near future which will be of an armed nature, says Piotr Muller, a spokesman for the Polish government, adding that there have been between 3,000 and 4,000 migrants in Belarus since then.
Watch the video below: This is what it looks like now on the Belarusian side of the border
But immigrants only come to closed borders, and end up throwing balls into no-man’s-land. Here, a Polish freelance journalist for VG met three Syrian migrants in a forest near the village of Narewka last weekend.
– This is not a good way to get to Europe. But because we are from Syria and we cannot get a visa, this is the only way. So, while that’s too bad, there’s no better way, say all three.
The Thais, Karam and Peter, all in their twenties, say they are from Homs, Syria. VG meets through activists in the Border Group, shortly before they are taken away by Polish border guards.
Life in our country is very bad. Years of war, we lack basic things like clean water and electricity. Thaer says, it is too bad, brother, too difficult.
– When we went on this trip, we thought it would be much easier, but this is also very difficult, and very brutal, he continues.
All three say that Belarusian border guards transported them first to the Polish border, and then to Lithuania. But in both places they were forced to retreat. They claim to have been subjected to violence several times.
Watch the video below: Chaos at the border and helicopters spread against migrants:
VG cannot confirm the allegations of violence being used, but this is something a number of migrants have said, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned.
– A Belarusian soldier hit me in the chest, I think I broke a rib. I have received painkillers from volunteers from the Polish Red Cross, and this helps me a little. We also got dry clothes.
In the closed area at the border, the three say they met hundreds of desperate people.
Frozen to death at the border: the use of migrants in violation of the European Union
Everyone in Belarus wanted to move to Poland, and then to Germany or other EU countries. Karam says some of them are sick, all are frozen and exhausted.
Activists from the Three Frontier Group helped them fill out documents to request asylum before border guards took them away.
On Monday night, activists contacted Polish asylum authorities and asked to know if the men were allowed to seek asylum, but were told they were not allowed access to individual cases, the group explained to VG.
Pay 50,000 kr
At an asylum reception center in the city of Bialystok in northeastern Poland, VG met a Syrian father and his teenage son, who spoke about how they had traveled to Poland via Belarus from Jordan.
Having heard about the new route through Belarus, they traveled to Dubai, where they bought a Belarusian visa at the consulate, and plane tickets to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
At $3,000 each (about 25,000 kroner), they were also scheduled to have a “guide” who would take them to the border.
– Everyone knew about this opportunity. Going through Belarus seems to have been the best thing, although it is very difficult and unsafe, says the father, who wishes to remain anonymous.
1 of 3Photo: Leonid Shiglov/Belta
When the father and son approached the border, they met the Belarusian soldiers, who said that they helped them find a hole in the border fence. But in a Polish village, they were stopped by the police, when the teenage son ran away and ran away from his father.
While the father and another man say they were sent back across the border, the teenage boy was alone again in Poland, where a day and a half later he received help from activists in the border group.
Poland has introduced an emergency law to be able to return migrants to Belarus, although the United Nations believes such “pushbacks” constitute a violation of refugee law.
Apply for asylum
When the Syrian father tried again the next day, he injured his leg and was eventually taken by ambulance. This is how he was reunited with his son, and they have now applied for asylum.
– You have to think about the future. One must forget about pain, cold and hunger. I thought about my son’s future.
– Was it worth?
Yes to the future, to security. I can’t tell other Syrians to travel this way. But I can’t say “don’t come”. The journey through Belarus to Poland is very dangerous and expensive, and it is impossible to return to it. Each one must decide for himself.
Ten deaths have been reported in the border region, but volunteers fear the true number may be higher.
The background of the crisis is that Poland is resorting Belarusian opposition against President Alexander Lukashenko, He is often referred to as the last dictator in Europe.
The European Union has accused Belarus of an influx of migrants in response to European Union sanctions against the regime’s handling of the country’s opposition.
Already in May, Lukashenko warned that he would no longer prevent migrants from moving to the EU, as a punishment for the EU’s tightening of sanctions against Belarus.
1 of 7Photo: Grzegorz Sokol
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