Poland-Belarus crisis volunteers: ‘Border police can be very aggressive’

1 year ago 121

The telephone came successful astatine astir 1.30pm successful the afternoon. A radical of 15 people, each Syrian, had been recovered successful the woods of Narewka aft managing to transverse the borderline from Belarus into Poland. One pistillate could hardly walk. Others had aboriginal signs of hypothermia.

The young unpaid who answered the telephone – 1 of astir 40 members of Grupa Granica, a Polish web of NGOs monitoring the concern connected the borderline – knew they had to enactment quickly.

If the Polish constabulary arrived earlier the doctors, they would, successful each likelihood, nonstop the migrants backmost to Belarus, with the hazard that their wellness conditions could deteriorate and go fatal.

At slightest 8 radical person died since the opening of the humanitarian and governmental crisis with Belarus, which is accused of deliberately provoking a caller exile situation successful Europe by organising the question of radical from the Middle East to Minsk and promising them harmless transition to the EU successful revenge for the sanctions Brussels has imposed connected its authoritarian regime. Poland, which has deployed astir 20,000 borderline police, has been accused successful crook of violently pushing thousands of radical backmost crossed the border.

“We person astir 8 teams operating adjacent the borderline and astir 40 radical successful total. Whenever we get get telephone from the families, we guardant the petition to our teams and we’ll cheque who is the idiosyncratic closest to the location,” said Anna Alboth from Minority Rights Group, who is besides a subordinate of Grupa Granica. “The migrants often inquire for food, water, a doc oregon a brace of shoes. I met a household from Syria who didn’t person immoderate footwear.”

After the telephone call, determination was conscionable clip to enactment connected immoderate lukewarm apparel and hole blistery beverage to connection to the migrants.

An ambulance successful  the borderline  region
An ambulance successful the borderline region Photograph: Alessio Mamo/The Guardian

“Working present successful the borderline portion is hard connected galore levels,” said Anna Chmielewska, coordinator of the Help Center for Foreigners, based successful Warsaw. ‘“First of each we cannot participate the unafraid portion [a two-mile heavy militarised portion created by the Polish government] which means we cannot assistance radical there. Only locals tin assistance successful the zone. We tin scope radical lone erstwhile they are capable to walk the portion and conscionable america extracurricular – and immoderate are not capable to spell done the zone. Winter is coming and radical are not prepared to enactment time aft time extracurricular successful the cold. We’re acrophobic that atrocious upwind volition origin much deaths.’’

The squad were capable to find the radical successful the woods adjacent Narewka earlier the Polish borderline police. They had crossed the borderline from Belarus the time before. It was starting to get acheronian and the somesthesia had dropped to adjacent zero degrees celsius. Once connected site, the squad gave blankets and blistery beverage to the families.

“The borderline constabulary tin beryllium precise aggressive,” said Chmielewska. “We don’t bash thing amerciable but they marque america consciousness arsenic if we are. Helping radical should beryllium precise normal. But successful this situation, it becomes similar a concealed activity. I conscionable consciousness successful these times, here, successful this portion of border, what is ineligible is truthful acold from what is moral.”

At astir 4pm, the constabulary arrived successful the woods. Minutes earlier the volunteers had explained to the radical however to use for asylum.

Asylum lawyers past explained to the constabulary their work to let radical to taxable applications for planetary protection, citing however immoderate pushback would beryllium a usurpation of assorted planetary laws. There was conscionable clip for a past hug betwixt the asylum seekers and volunteers earlier the officers took the radical distant to a borderline patrol station.

Then the telephone rang again.