Migrants on the border between Poland and Belarus

When he hears to knock at the door, Amina jumps on the couch. Have fear that the police can break into the house and find her. It has not done anything wrong, it’s just one migrant secretly, without documents, without the right to stay in Poland. It came from Belarus crosses the border into the forest. “I am. Several times he tried to overcome limit without success: “When the police saw me, they started doing it shoot shots in the air, they told me to go back, they had too dogs barking. “And then there is Wall wanted by the Polish Government: a fence under construction, which will be 186 kilometers long, corresponding to almost half the total length of the border, and will cost 340 million euros. Wide pieces of the wall are already there: they stand in the middle of the country, in the woods, among the peasants’ houses. And they block refugees. After all, Amina eventually managed to get into Poland, she was found among the trees under dramatic conditions of activists of the area.

Now is refugee inside the house of one family polish, which hides it in the attic. He never leaves the house, not even in the garden for not being discovery from neighbors who could report his presence to the police. It would be risky to leave the house, because if you are caught transporting migrants by car, you run the risk the arrest to participation illegal immigration. It happened to four activists, they were arrested. And if they catch you with migrants at home, you risk the process. “Or maybe eight years prison: the police are trying to equate the welcome to Traffic of people “says K., the Polish woman who welcomes Amina:” I am aware to riskbut we can not stand and watch does not matterif no one does anything, these people are likely to do it to die. It seems to go back in time, the same thing happened 80 years old do with Jews that was hidden in the houses. “K. – and like her other families – have hosted so far over 20 refugees. His house, in the open country, is close by limit. Sitting on the couch next to her daughter Anna. “I did not tell my schoolmates that we are hosting migrants, it would be too risky.”

Dozens of migrants try to reach Europe every day by crossing the border between Belarus and Poland. They are Afghans, Pakistanis, Syrians, Yemenis, some Africans who arrived in Belarus encouraged by government by Alexander Lukashenko, who closed set tourist with the false promise of a simplified channel to the EU. But then go stacked up at the border hundreds of refugees, who in an attempt to reach Europe, they are coming rejected by the Polish police. In this way, the Belarussian government is trying one blackmail EU. And then whole families flock to the frost of the forest, with small children living and sleeping in makeshift beds.

Thaw weights and two measures: on the one hand, fleeing Ukrainians can enter Poland, on the other hand, Poland itself closes the doors of non-Ukrainian migrants. According to local humanitarian associations, they are already over 200 migrants died of hunger and cold in the last year. Some migrants testify that they have been beatenothers say the agents destroyed cell phones. Like Mohamed, who fled Iran because he was gay. We reach him by phone, he is now in Belarus: “The police used him spray with the chili pepper to restrain my movements, they jerked at me and brought me vigorously to the command. They took me fingerprintthen they said I should sign one sheet where I said yes to being transferred to a jail. I did not sign because I knew that once they were inside those centers, they would send me back backthey insisted a policeman has me forced to sign they also used the gun electroshockI said I would like to talk to someone lawyer but they did not listen to me, they took my phone and destroyed it, then they got me reported by car in Belarus ».

The area of limit it is armored. There is not only the wall. Poland has established a “red zone“At the border, day and night are patrolled, where migrants can not approach, and I can not journalists and humanitarian workers. A tragedy for many tourist areas in the area, such as the Virgin of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Impossible to reach villages, restaurants, hotels. Białowieża National Park, the only one in Europe where you can see bison, it can only be visited for a small part. The rest are off limits. Let’s try to overcome limit by car, but everywhere there is a patrol that stops us: “We can not goyou must return back“. We ask the reason, the agents answer seraphic:” For refugees“. To help migrants stuck in the woods, there are dozens of volunteers from humanitarian associations. Between these Granica Groupwhich counts many activists along the entire border. The city of Białystok is the base of many operations. On the outskirts there is one stock full of humanitarian aid. It looks like a clothing store: pants, sweatshirts, jackets, shoes, boots, coats, underpants, socks, for socks can save lives when it freezes outside. Crowded shelves. And then the first material save: gauze, patches, flashlights, thermal blankets, thermal cameras, even infusions: “Yes, there are migrants trapped in the forest who need administrations of liquids and substances – explain the volunteers – Once we helped a person with hypothermia by tying the drip to a tree with shoelaces ».

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