Last month, Freedom reported on the plight of 32 people from Afghanistan seeking asylum in the EU imprisoned on the Polish-Belarus border and left there without food, shelter or medical assistance for weeks. These people are the victims of a diplomatic spat between the dictatorial regime of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and the EU.
The Belarusian government is, first, flying people to the country’s capital Minsk and then forces them to cross the border with Poland, or other neighborhoring EU countries. The Polish state, on its side, is pushing the people attempting to cross the border back to Belarus, often using violent means to do so, and without any regard to peoples’ safety and wellbeing.
The victims of the illegal pushbacks, already exhausted and confused by unfamiliar surroundings, are left in make-shift camps along the border without appropriate care, food or shelter, or they are simply disappeared. This brutal practise happens against international laws around refugee rights. All organisations attempting to assist these desperate people are barred from the area following Poland’s introduction of the state of emergency laws to combat this, as they call it, “invasion”. In the meantime, the Polish state is using this issue to, basically, peddle nationalistic war-like propaganda.
So far, we know of five deaths that are a direct result of this inhumane treatment, but this number can be much greater: the area along the border is a dangerous forest, and it is getting cold there. The refugee people are prevented from moving back to Belarus or continuing their journey across Poland, and instead are being left along the border to, basically, die.
Below, Freedom publishes a report by Katarzyna Czarnota and Marta Górczyńska: two activists involved in “Grupa Granica” present in the area and doing all they can to help.