The Belarus-Poland Border Crisis


Kancelaria Premiera

The border heavily guarded on the Polish side, and full of refugee camps on the other.

Sierra Ayers, Reporter

There have been many news stories regarding all the refugee crises around the world. With borders closing and opening due to COVID-19 and shifts in government, there has been no shortage of refugees and immigration struggles. And although we’ve had a plethora of refugees trying to seek shelter in the United States, it doesn’t only happen here.

The border between Belarus and Poland, with the specific placement in red (The Economist)

There is currently a tense standoff at the Poland-Belarus border. Refugees originally from Iraq and Syria are stuck now between Polish and Belarus forces as they try to find refuge in Europe. And although the conditions have gotten extremely severe, the refugees who escaped Iraq and Syria have been struggling for much longer than a few weeks.

Poland has adopted the use of water cannons and tear gas on Tuesday, which only added to the brutal conditions in the increasingly desperate situation for the migrants stranded on the border.

But they are trapped between Polish guards on one side and Belarusian guards on the other. The migrants cannot get into Poland but are also being prevented from retreating back into Belarus, according to Polish authorities.

The border between Belarus and Poland stretches some 250 miles and the heartbreaking tales of suffering and loss have been growing by the day as the standoff shows no signs of being resolved.

This situation also brings many back to the migration crisis of 2015, where more than 1 million migrants and refugees went to seek asylum in Europe. Since that crisis occurred, the border block has been even more guarded, allowing little to no migration among the European borders.

People are accusing Belarus’s authoritarian leader, Alexander Lukashenko, of planning and scheming this as a revenge plan to punish Poland for sheltering some of his most outspoken opponents and to pressure the European Union into lifting sanctions on his country. Lukashenko has invited various migrants to cross the border over months, and Belarus as a whole is being accused of flying migrants from the Middle East to push into Poland and Lithuania.

All accusations have been denied by the Belarus government.

Children on the main makeshift camp at Poland’s border with Belarus. (Antoine K.)

The situation escalates day by day. They are freezing, getting shot, and have nowhere to go. Many have put too much into this journey and refuse to turn back.

They have been camping out in the forests and freezing during the nights with nowhere to go. Because of the tension, they are trapped between the two forces.

The death count is currently unknown due to the influx of migrants both trying to turn back and come forward. There have been burials and incredible mourning for those who have since died near the border, and as conditions get worse, the death toll rises.

Many refugees believe that the outcome of this crisis will be major death and a huge deportation back to the lands that they originally fled.

Belarusian authorities have given first aid to this tragic situation, bringing hundreds of families to a warehouse to escape the freezing nights. The camps are seen to be empty, with the exception of other wanderers to the border.

In recent events, Iraq had actually flown out some of the refugees. The refugees are unhappy with the outcome, and say that they will continue to cross and migrate with everything they can.

Although it is not an end to the ongoing border crisis, it is a glimpse at what could be. But as the days go on, the conditions stay stagnant and no one can truly say what this outcome will be.