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Saturday, October 23, 2021

The border with Belarus. Migrants are calling for help. Activists, lawyers and private individuals offer refugees material and legal assistance

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More migrants and more young children on the border – as well as another intervention by the Border Guard, which multiplies the questions. We would not know anything about it if it were not for the activists who are present day and night. They do not give up in helping, despite the resistance of the services. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.

Mir celebrates its first birthday. He’s from Iraq. After ten days in the forest – together with his three-year-old sister and four adults – he ended up in the Border Guard post in Michałów. This is another group of migrants and another intervention of the Border Guard that we would not have learned about if it were not for the work of activists.


– It is very important for us to monitor it, to speak about it loudly – emphasizes Natalia Borysławska from the Salvation Foundation. They monitor and appeal even when the Border Guard does not accept powers of attorney from lawyers or let them into the facility to detained migrants.

Later that night, another intervention took place, in Gródek – also in Podlasie. This time a group from the Congo, including a teenager lying motionless on the ground. They were all taken by the Border Guard, it is unknown where. – If we talk more about it and publicize such situations, instead of sweeping them under the rug, it will be easier for these people to survive – says the activist Ewa Michalska.

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Activists, lawyers and private individuals offer refugees material and legal assistance

Activists of reports about groups of migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border receive even several dozen a day. – Information about the fact that someone is in a specific area is actually given 24 hours a day – says Anna Chmielewska from the Ocalenie Foundation.

Residents of nearby towns and families of people who have lost contact with them are calling. The migrants themselves speak up asking for help. “Five days without drinking water,” says one of them. – It is precisely such groups that send their location to other non-governmental organizations with information about the situation in which they found themselves – explains Katarzyna Czarnota from the Granica Group.

Exhausted migrants can count on the help of activists, lawyers and private personsThe Bread and Salt Initiative

– Sometimes it is enough to drive only a car, and these people are so exhausted that they decide to go out of their hiding place and look for any help – notes the photojournalist Antoni Mantorski.

Activists of non-governmental organizations, foundations, photojournalists, lawyers, private persons – they donate food, clothes, blankets to refugees and offer legal assistance. They try to find out what happens to them later. – Unfortunately, these people are constantly pushed out, so this is the only evidence that we are there and documenting – adds Antoni Mantorski.

Work is not made easier by the state of emergency introduced over a month ago – on September 2. No one except the services is allowed to enter the places where it is in force. – There is so much going on over a distance of three kilometers that we don’t know about. All we have are more and more testimonies of people who managed to pass this barrier – says the photojournalist.

The border with Belarus. Hundreds of migrants try to cross it every day

During a few-hour walk near the state of emergency, activists find two places where refugees most likely stayed. They left their clothes, food packaging, proof of registration in one of the guesthouses in Minsk. We don’t know who they were or what is happening to them now.

– Unfortunately, there are also situations when we find someone, follow him to the Border Guard post, and after a few hours we get a pin from the refugees, but on the Belarusian side. Then, as people, it is simply very difficult for us – admits Natalia Borysławska. According to the latest official data from the Border Guard, almost 670 people tried to cross the border only on Wednesday. How many are hidden on the Polish side, in the border forests – we do not know.

Main photo source: The Bread and Salt Initiative

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