A brand new humanitarian disaster unfolds on the Polish-Belarusian border

For weeks, a big group of individuals, largely from the Middle East, has been stranded in Belarus at a border crossing with Poland, trapped as forces from the 2 international locations face off in opposition to one another.

Most are fleeing battle or a way of hopelessness at home, and purpose to reach Germany or different Western European international locations.

The West has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of luring the refugees and migrants to the border to make use of them as pawns to destabilise the 27-nation European Union in retaliation for its sanctions on his authoritarian authorities.

Belarus denies orchestrating the disaster, which has seen refugees and migrants coming into the nation since summer season after which making an attempt to cross into Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Humanitarian companies say as many as 13 individuals have died on the border, the place many have suffered in a chilly, damp forest with little meals or water as frigid winter units in.

Tuesday introduced the primary snowfall for the reason that disaster began.

About 2,000 individuals are at the moment staying at a warehouse facility near the border with Poland. Lukashenko has mentioned a complete of seven,000 refugees and migrants stay within the nation.

The spokesman for Poland’s safety companies, Stanislaw Zaryn estimated approximately 10,000 migrants are in Belarus now.

About 8,000 migrants have entered the 27-nation EU – largely via Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia – from Belarus this yr, and border guards have prevented tens of 1000’s of crossing makes an attempt, in keeping with EU figures.

The disaster erupted earlier this yr when longtime Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reacted furiously to EU sanctions. The bloc had punished Minsk over its compelled diversion of a passenger jet in May and subsequent arrest of a dissident journalist, Roman Protasevich, who was on board.

Months earlier, the EU and the United States penalised Lukashenko’s authorities for cracking down on dissent after a disputed August 2020 election which handed the 67-year-old a sixth time period and provoked mass anti-government protests.