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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Usnarz Górny. Polish-Belarusian border. The situation of migrants

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The situation of migrants on the Polish-Belarusian border near the Polish village of Usnarz Górny is unclear. People associated with the Ocalenie foundation inform that there are 32 people in the camp. The Border Guard, which does not allow anyone to join the group, said in turn that there were 24 migrants on the spot. The day before, lawyers and a doctor tried to get to them unsuccessfully. When asked about reports that lawyers and representatives of one of the foundations were prevented from contacting migrants by jamming engines or sound signals, a spokeswoman for the Border Guard did not deny the reports.

A group of foreigners has been living on the Polish-Belarusian border, near the Polish village of Usnarz Górny, for several days. They want to enter the territory of Poland and apply for international protection. On the Belarusian side, they are blocked from a possible retreat by the local services. The crossing to the Polish side is guarded by soldiers and Border Guard officers.


There is information chaos on the spot regarding the number of migrants staying in the camp. After 10.00 the Border Guard The Border Guard informed that “over half of the foreigners left the area”, and “the rest of the people do not want to leave the camp”.

A quarter of an hour before 2 p.m., the services informed that there was a group of 24 people in the camp, of which 20 were men and four were women. It was explained that “some of the people were taken” by the Belarusian side, and “a few new” people were brought back.

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In another post, ten minutes later, it was reported that “Belarusian border services have invited Belarusian media today to meet nomadic foreigners.”

The TVN24 reporter, Marta Abramczyk, who was on the spot, reported after 2 p.m. that the communication of the interpreter speaking through a megaphone was hindered by the Border Guard, which started the engines and sound signals.

The reporter reported that migrants use gestures to communicate with, among others, representatives of the Ocalenie foundation and lawyers. – Based on the signals sent by the migrants, they confirmed that there are actually fewer of them, although in the morning they confirmed that they are full, i.e. that there are 32 of them. Later we had a message that there are less of them – she reported, referring to the communiqué of the Border Guard, referring to 24 people.

The reporter – referring to information “from before the moment” from a person associated with the Ocrzenie foundation – said that there are still 32 people in the camp.

Border Guard spokesman: we know what we are doing

The situation in the migrant camp was asked on Sunday afternoon by the TVN24 reporter Jan Piotrowski, second lieutenant Anna Michalska, spokeswoman Border Guard. She informed that applications for international protection may be submitted “at border crossings, at Border Guard posts on the territory of Poland or at Border Guard units”.

When answering a question about reports that contact with migrants was prevented by jamming with engines or sound signals, Michalska did not deny them. – We conduct border operations there, the aim of which is to maintain the inviolability of Poland’s borders. We have been doing this for 30 years and we know what we are doing. We have experience not only from the Polish borders, but also from the external borders of the European Union. We have faced such migratory pressure on these borders more than once, she said.

– We do not need any additional activities that escalate emotions. We know what we are doing and we are asking, we urge us all the time to let us act – she added.

When asked if jamming was an element of the Border Guard’s actions, the spokesman replied that the person who owns the area at the height of Usnarz “does not want outsiders to enter this area, it is private property”. “It is her right,” she added.

– We don’t protect this private area. As a service, we can operate there, because there are regulations that protect the state border, we can also enter private property. But if the landowner wishes that other people do not enter, then here is only the free good of the landowner. We know that he probably called other services in connection with the fact that someone is entering this area – she described. It did not specify what services it meant.

Spokesman for the Border Guard: the owner of the area at the height of Usnarz does not want bystanders to enter the areaTVN24

Salvation Foundation: not all migrants are visible

Earlier, after 10.30 am, the Ocalenie foundation informed on Twitter that 10 people remained on the border between Poland and Belarus, and the rest were “pushed” to Belarus. Immediately after the publication of this information, however, it was added that it is not sure exactly how many immigrants were left in Usnarz, because you cannot see all of them. “We tried to establish contact with them through the loudspeaker, the Border Guard turned on the sirens in all cars” – wrote on Facebook.

“Disturbing information was given by the Border Guard on Twitter: apparently some of the Usnarz group could not stand it and retreated to Belarus” – it was noted.

The Border Guard cut off access to the area where the migrants are staying

On Saturday morning, the Border Guard and the army moved the cordon several hundred meters from the border with Belarus. Armed officers and soldiers did not let journalists and volunteers from the Ocrzenie foundation pass. The place where the nomads are located has been tightly covered by the cars of the Border Guard and the army.

Border Guard and army cordon near the town of Usnarz GórnyPAP / Artur Reszko

– The Border Guard does not inform us on what grounds access to this area was closed. Yesterday morning lawyers asked about it, they did not receive information. Contact with the commandant of the nearest unit or the headquarters in Białystok does not result in answering our questions – said Anna Chmielewska from the Ocrzenie foundation. As she told none of the migrants, “there is no danger and there are no very sick people.”

Migrants on the Polish-Belarusian borderPAP / Artur Reszko

Doctor and interpreter not admitted to migrants

She recalled that on Saturday the Border Guard did not allow doctors and interpreters to be admitted to immigrants detained at the border. Doctor Paulina Bownik informed that she wanted to give drugs to the sick.

Bownik told on TVN24 about Saturday’s events at the border. As she said, that day she received information from the Ocrzenie foundation that among the refugees there are people who feel unwell and ask for urgent medical help.

– I went there and I did not manage to reach these people, the Polish Border Guard did not allow me to do so. Of course, an ambulance was called. Several times the people who should come to these people and whether they should come were turned over. Eventually, the arrival was refused – said the doctor. As she added, “the representative of the Ocrzenie foundation heard that only the Border Guard can call an ambulance there, which they did not do”.

– The Border Guard is perfectly prepared medically for such situations. She has her doctors, her equipment and she would be able – if she wanted – to secure these people much better than I do – argued the doctor.

The doctor was not admitted to the migrants. “I brought drugs, antibiotics”TVN24

More and more migrants

The inhabitants of Usnarz Górny and nearby Krynki claim that for a month now they have been seeing more and more foreigners in the area.

– It started like this a month ago. Every now and then someone says that they have seen some immigrants. This was not the case before. Maybe some single people, who were immediately caught by the Border Guard, said a resident of Krynek in an interview with the Polish Press Agency. This older man wants to remain anonymous, as do the other interlocutors.

He pointed to a cornfield on the outskirts of town. – Ladies, you can find backpacks, bags and even some old jackets there. They sit there until the evening and wait. Then some people come after them with cars with German numbers – he said.

A group of refugees and border guards near the town of Usnarz GórnyArtur Reszko / PAP

Another reported that while on mushrooms he met two young men with a swarthy complexion and dark hair. “They were calm, from what I understood, because they showed that they wanted to eat.” But I had nothing to eat, so they went away – he said.

A farmer from Usnarz Górny also told that a dozen or so days ago a group of foreigners “sat” a few kilometers beyond the village. In his opinion, they were illegal immigrants. – I don’t know what happened to them later. They must have been picked up by border guards, he guessed.

The Polish Border Guard indicates that throughout the last year, 122 people who had crossed the border illegally were detained in the Podlasie section. This year it is about 780 foreigners. So far, the Border Guard has recorded over two thousand attempts to cross the border illegally, of which approximately 1,350 were prevented by border guards.

“If they wanted to, the Border Guard would be able to secure these people much better than I do”TVN24

Main photo source: TVN24

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