Friday, November 26

Increase in number of Belarusian refugees arriving in Germany




“They were hungry and disoriented, they weren’t sure which country they were in,” one of the border guards described the 14 Iraqis detained by German police on Wednesday afternoon, in a forest near Frankfurt Oder, next to the border with Poland. The human smugglers left them there and they did not dare to move in any direction because they did not have a compass and did not understand the signs. They were afraid to unknowingly undertake the return journey. Had entered the EU through the Belarusian-Polish border. Most of them will be allowed to stay. “Every day we see more groups like this,” adds the police spokesman, “last Monday forty people crossed the Polish border from Belarus, on Tuesday there were 69 and on Wednesday 80. And all of them they do it with the hope of reaching Germany». Thousands of refugees are arriving by this route to Brandenburg, where a temporary initial reception center has been set up, with tents as emergency shelters.

The facility, located in Eisenhüttenstadt, has room for 1,100 people, but is already overflowing. Additional containers have been installed, along with latrines and field showers. Food and water arrive daily in trucks chartered by local authorities, concerned about the scale of the phenomenon. “Since the beginning of September, more than 500 refugees have arrived from Belarus, mainly Iraqis, which is 150 more than the whole month of August,” confirms Olaf Jansen, head of the initial reception, “and we expect thousands more in the coming weeks. ». The reason for this new wave of refugees is the facilities that the Lukashenko government offers to emigrants from all over the world, whom his police take to the Polish border. These are people who they have paid between 600 and 3,500 euros to smugglers to fly to Minsk and from there be transferred by road to Poland. The last section, to Germany, is often done on foot. In response to EU sanctions following the hijacking of a Ryanair plane, the Minsk government is carrying out what the Balkan governments have unanimously described as a ‘hybrid attack’.

“Poland only recovers around 20% of the refugees that reach us here and our capacity is already at the limit,” warns Jansen. Poland has hosted more than 8,000 of these refugees, mostly Arabs and who have crossed illegally from Belarus, but the Warsaw government refuses to continue welcoming people and the flow does not diminish. The Berlin Federal Police Directorate is using agents from other areas of the Federal Police, in addition to its own personnel, to intensify border controls, especially on the Frankfurt Oder bridges and on the railway, but the forest border is practically impossible to cover in its entirety and the German authorities have no intention of erecting a physical wall, as the Polish government is doing on its border with Belarus.

The United Nations Refugee Agency, Unhcr, has expressed its regret at the recent death of four of these immigrants on the border between Poland and Belarus and has warned of the severe conditions suffered by many people on this route. “Some are blocked for weeks, trapped between two border police who do not allow them to move forward or backward, without access to assistance, asylum or basic services,” the organization denounced in a statement, “many of them live in unexpected situations, exposed to the elements, with hypothermia, and even some have been rescued in the mud of the swamps ». Unhcr has asked that the situation be managed in accordance with international obligations and that the States involved cooperate to solve the problem, giving priority to the Human Rights of these people.

Lithuania announced yesterday that it will allow to request asylum through its Embassy in Misk to avoid “irregular crossings” and reported that so far it has rejected some 2,200 people who were trying to enter illegally at the border, while it has allowed about 80 to enter whose situation justified the granting of refugee status. Lithuania currently houses more than 4,100 immigrants, most of them from Iraq, who have been arriving in the country since the beginning of summer.

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