Mediapart: Belarus behind them and the Poles ahead.. Immigrants talk about hell at the gates of Europe

One of the immigrants: The Polish soldiers told us, Poland, no, go to Belarus, and the beatings were our luck in Poland and Belarus, as if we were animals.

Several thousand Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese and Yemenis are still stuck between Belarus and Poland, trapped by a migration crisis between Europe and the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, in an area closed to journalists, behind frozen barbed wire and Polish soldiers on the other side of the fence.

With this introduction, the French website Mediapart summarized the situation of men, women and children standing early in the morning wearing coats and hats in a cold weather, by:article A joint venture between Hossam Hammoud, Celine Martley and Noe Benyid, in which they were able to communicate with stranded immigrants and their photos spread in the media and social networks, where no journalist is allowed to work, nor are only channels and agencies close to the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko approached.

Those journalists say that anyone who wants to know from the inside what several NGOs call a “humanitarian emergency” must go through the phones. They called Hussein, 34, an Iraqi Kurd, who rented a portable battery from another immigrant to answer their questions in Podlazy forest near the border between Poland and Belarus.

Suffering stories

Hussain says – and the children’s voices mingle behind him with the clamor of the parents – “We ran out of food and my daughter doesn’t have milk. We are hungry and cold, and I don’t know which one will kill us first. At night the temperature drops below zero in this humid forest.” They will end up letting us pass, and people say the Poles will open the border soon and take us to Germany. Do you think that’s true? It’s a rumor that the German Foreign Ministry has denied in several languages ​​on Twitter.

Hussein left his country in mid-October with his wife and 18-month-old daughter in the first waves of immigrants arriving in Minsk, because work in Iraqi Kurdistan is no longer possible without the mediation that this young engineer does not have, sighing, “Our country is full of There is nothing for us there. So when we heard that a new route through Belarus was opening to Europe, we packed our bags. We paid $15,000 to a smuggler, and we ran out of money.”

In another call, the journalists spoke with Karim, the Lebanese commentator, waiting for a message from his cousin Anas, 22, who flew from Beirut to Belarus in mid-October. He definitely wanted to live in a stable country. Since then he has been trapped between Belarus and Poland. He told me he had to eat hashish to survive.” He is a construction worker who can no longer find work in Lebanon, which is in crisis.

In this atmosphere, a group of Syrians managed to return after 18 days of wandering in the forest, all of them wanted to escape from the forced conscription of the army of the Damascus regime, and from the Belarusian capital Minsk, where the Syrian Ali (27 years) is hiding, who wanted – a sick young man – to tell us His story “so that no one would be left in this terrible situation,” explaining, “We had to drink water from the swamps. With my friends, we wished for death. Real imprisonment is easier than this suffering.”

Violence on both sides of the barbed wire

According to the article, the migrants trapped between Belarus and Poland are facing unexpected violence, as Lebanese Karim remembers that his cousin Anas told him in his last call, “It felt like a ball between two teams. The Belarusians pushed him to cross 5 times and each time he was sent back by the Poles. He sent us A picture in which he removes his shirt from his back, which shows traces of bruises.

When Belarusian soldiers arrested him for the first time, Ali was beaten with a baton – he says – “They took us to a makeshift camp in the middle of the forest. Along the way, they beat us relentlessly.” His friend Faris remembers that the soldiers forced them into a truck, which stopped them at the edge of a glacier “Go in that direction and run into the forest and you will be in Poland,” they told them.

“Everyone started running, convinced that they would be safe in Europe soon. The Polish army arrested us, they asked us to lie on the ground and then they beat us. Then they told us in English, ‘No, Poland, go to Belarus’. The beatings were our luck in Poland and Belarus as if we were animals.”

the same scenario

Whether it is Syrians, Iraqis, Lebanese or Yemenis – as the article explains – all the testimonies describe the same system of human trafficking, where smugglers promise easy access to Europe and Germany in particular, at a price ranging between 4 thousand and 6 thousand dollars per person.

“I put all my savings into it,” says the young Iraqi Kurdish Hussein, who spent $15,000 to move his entire family and is still stuck between Belarus and Poland. The better life seemed within reach. And it seemed so easy. The travel agency was full of Kurds who loved us. Nobody thinks about what awaits us here. We won’t go back unless we have to.”

In a televised intervention, Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahaf said – Sunday (last) – that the first return flight will take off from Minsk Thursday (today), in a rescue operation carried out in cooperation with the authorities of the Kurdish autonomous region, to return the “willing” citizens who responded 571 Only them, not Hussein among them.

As for Ali and his Syrian companions from their side, they were able to leave Belarus to reach Beirut on Friday, November 12 (current), but – according to the article – if they return to Syria they will be arrested on charges of dissent, while the Lebanese did not hear anything about his immigrant cousin Anas. Several days ago.

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