How is life in and around the state of emergency? This was discussed by the guests of the “Closed Zone” program on TVN24. – People are scared more and more here. They are aware that in some time we will find bodies in the forest – said Adam Wajrak, journalist from “Gazeta Wyborcza”. – The opinions of the inhabitants are very diverse, while the atmosphere of tension and stress is very noticeable – reported Joanna Łapińska, an inhabitant of Białowieża.
The border zone with Belarus (183 localities) has been under the state of emergency since September 2. There are numerous restrictions, including a ban on access for journalists, doctors, lawyers and aid organizations, among others.
The guests of Piotr Marciniak, the host of “Fakt” TVN, talked about how it is to live in this zone, as well as in towns close to it: Joanna Łapińska, resident of Białowieża and member of the Lokalsi group, Mateusz Wodziński, resident of the village of Łapicze on the border with Belarus and Adam Wajrak, a journalist of “Gazeta Wyborcza” and a resident of the village of Teremiski in the Białowieża Forest, located right next to the zone of emergency.
Wajrak: These people will die
– People here are more and more afraid. They are aware that in some time we will find bodies in the forest – said Wajrak. – These people hide from the Polish Border Guard through push-backi, they are also afraid of Belarusians who push them out. In a sense, they hide from everyone because they are afraid that anyone can report their presence to the Border Guard – added the journalist.
He warned that “these people are going to die.” “I would die, you would die, everyone would die,” he said. – With this policy, we can turn our charming, wonderful Podlasie, beautiful, tolerant place into the Mediterranean Sea, in this negative sense. I think about it with horror – admitted the journalist.
– Belarusians have been playing with fear for some time. This is a ping-pong, a kind of bidding on who will be tougher against those people who are de facto victims – said Wajrak.
As he added, “these people are deceived by the Lukashenka regime, by Belarusian border guards, and later treated very badly by the Polish state.”
Łapińska: we sit in warm houses, and people freeze in the forest
– The opinions of the residents are very diverse, while the atmosphere of tension and stress is very noticeable – said Joanna Łapińska, an inhabitant of Białowieża. – Even if we do not meet refugees on our way, we are aware that the temperature already drops below zero at night, this morning there was frost. It is terrifying that we are sitting here in warm houses and people are freezing in the woods. Nobody has any doubts that these people are around us – she admitted.
Łapińska met a group of refugees only once. – They were calm. Such nice people, only totally helpless. It was difficult to contact them as they spoke little English. They knew they were in Poland. They have already been pushed to Belarus four times, she said.
As she reported, they were not properly prepared for the weather conditions in Poland. Although they wore jackets, many of them did not have warm shoes and one person did not even have socks. – The man I met wasn’t in the camera light. He had thin galoshes and no socks. He did not want to play the victim in front of me – she argued. – We’ve seen the whole campsite. These are the people who found themselves trapped, she added.
As she said, so far she has never had any objections to the Border Guard. – Residents here have always positively perceived this formation. At the moment, her image is tarnished for political reasons – said Joanna.
Wodziński: they are trapped
– I think that when these people reached Poland, they did not realize what the situation was here, that in fact there would be no transition to Poland or further to the West, or back to Minsk or to their home – said Mateusz Wodziński.
As he reported, most migrants are shocked. – They’re trapped. They are not prepared for the winter we will have – he assessed.
As he said, the situation at the border is “complicated”. – There are various controversies as to how to deal with these people. I would not blame the Border Guard, these are government decisions, and the officers only carry out orders, he said.
The state of emergency at the border with Belarus
State of emergency was announced in response to emerging migrants, mainly from the Middle East and Africa. They are brought in by the Belarusian authorities and sent to the border with Poland. The government maintains that this is part of the hybrid war waged by the regime of Alexander Lukashenka.
Main photo source: TVN24