“Death of cold and starvation” .. Belarus seduces migrants with the...

“Death of cold and starvation” .. Belarus seduces migrants with the...
“Death of cold and starvation” .. Belarus seduces migrants with the...

Thousands of migrants, most of them from Iraq, are facing an unknown fate after they were stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland, in the harsh cold weather that has so far caused the death of at least 10 people.

At the same time, Western reports reveal the role of the Belarusian authorities in encouraging migrants to come, and in some cases providing them with axes and sharp tools to cut the barbed wire that Polish soldiers put in place to prevent the influx of human crowds that pay thousands of dollars to smugglers who promise them the “promised land”, Germany.

Migrants, mostly Kurds from the cities of the Kurdistan region of Iraq, were stuck in an area that does not officially belong to any country at the border in the near freezing temperature, where they set up tents and used firewood for heating.

Belarus says there are about 2,000 people, including a pregnant woman and children. As for Poland, it indicates that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 immigrants at the border, and more of them arrive daily.

Difficult humanitarian situation

Concern about the suffering of these migrants is growing as temperatures continue to drop, Poland refuses to allow them to cross and Belarus accuses them of preventing them from leaving the region.

And Polish police said, on Saturday, that they had found the body of a Syrian in a forest near the border, “it was not yet possible to determine the cause of his death.”

The latest death brings to 11 the total number of migrants whose bodies have been found on both sides since the crisis began during the summer, according to aid organizations.

On Thursday, Polish media reported that a 14-year-old Iraqi boy froze to death near the border in Belarus.

Excerpt exclusive For a CNN reporter, he managed to enter an illegal camp inside Belarus near the Polish border, families with young children trying to survive in the face of food shortages and the bitter cold.

Migrants live in tattered tents, relying on heavy clothes and logs that they cut from nearby forests to keep themselves and their children warm. During the CNN report, children are heard screaming for help or because they are hungry.

On the opposite side, Polish soldiers stand in front of barbed wire along the border, observing any movement or attempt to breach the border by migrants.

Iraqi immigrants interviewed by a CNN correspondent say that there is still hope to cross to Poland, and from there to Germany, despite the difficult conditions they face.

Minsk government

The number of immigrants has doubled dramatically as news spread on social media that Belarus had opened an immigration route to Europe. The Europeans accuse Belarusian President Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for nearly 30 years, of luring migrants and sending them to cross to Poland in response to previous EU sanctions imposed on Minsk over its suppression of dissent.

These moves have opened the doors for people desperate to flee a region plagued by instability and high unemployment rates, such as the Kurdistan region, according to a report published on Saturday by the newspaper.The New York Times“.

The report says that cities like Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have turned into departure ports crowded with migrants eager to make the expensive and perilous journey for a chance at a better life in Europe.

Mullah Rawaz, a travel agent in Sulaymaniyah, says he sells about 100 packages a week for flights to Minsk, including a ticket through a third country, transit services and a visa to Belarus.

Many Iraqi immigrants assert that the Belarusian security forces provided them with tools to breach the Polish border fence, such as axes and iron cutters.

Bayar Awat, an Iraqi Kurd stranded on the Belarusian side of the Polish border, says Belarusian guards helped his group reach the border by pointing out a road away from the official border crossing and a gaping hole in the barbed wire.

“Belarus police directed us and helped us take roads through the forests to keep us away from the official border crossing,” he added.

Others assert that “some of the migrants tried to leave the frozen forest to return to Minsk, but the Belarusian guards forced them to stay and left them stranded at the border,” according to “The New York Times.”

‘Smugglers do nothing’

The crisis has led to an increase in visa prices to Belarus from about $90 in the past to $1,200 now.

Most immigrants said they paid about $3,000 for packages including visa, travel and lodging for a few days.

Many migrants leave thousands of dollars in currency exchange offices to send to smugglers who promise to take them to the border.

Many said the smuggling fee was about $3,000, but migrants said smugglers often did nothing more than indicate which direction to go through the dense jungle.

regional action

And Saturday, “Cham Wings”, the only private Syrian airline flying to Belarus, suspended its flights to Minsk airport, in an attempt to reduce the flow of migrants with the difficulty of distinguishing between them and regular travelers.

And at Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut, which is used by Lebanese, Syrians and Iraqis to fly to Belarus, an official source, who declined to be identified, told AFP that the airport authorities started about a month ago preventing Iraqis arriving in Beirut from going on flights by Belarusian Airlines “because of our knowledge.” They are illegal immigrants.”

And it has become “more tough” towards Lebanese and Syrian travelers residing in Lebanon towards Minsk.

In Iraq, the honorary consulates of Belarus in Baghdad and Erbil closed this month at the request of the Iraqi government.

On Friday, Turkey announced a ban on the travel of citizens of three countries in the Middle East to the former Soviet republic through Turkish airports due to the “problem of border crossings between the European Union and Belarus.”

The decision came days after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threatened to impose sanctions on airlines that engage in “people smuggling”.

Turkish Airlines provides one of the most widely used international routes to Minsk.

Turkish Airlines on Tuesday rejected accusations that its flights “create the situation for the smuggling of illegal immigrants”. It stressed in a statement that such information “does not reflect the truth.”

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