By: Jackson Sharman
Around 2,000 migrants are in danger of succumbing to harsh winter conditions on the border between Belarus and Poland as a political conflict between the two countries intensifies.
Poland and the European Union have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of creating a human rights crisis and using the migrants as pawns. Lukashenko’s government has encouraged the migrants from the Middle East to come to Belarus to get to the European Union through its borders with Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia.
Migrants have described how Belarusian forces have helped the migrants find the best places to cross the border and tear down fences.
Lukashenko has denied manufacturing the crisis, instead blaming Poland and other Western countries for their treatment of the migrants.
There are reported to be hundreds of babies and toddlers among the migrants, and at least 13 migrants are reported to have died.
The Polish government has also faced criticism for its handling of the crisis.
A Polish group called the Ocalenie Foundation that is working with the migrants has said Polish authorities are deploying “inhumane tactics” against the migrants. The group said the Polish policy of pushing the migrants back and denying them asylum violates international law.
In addition, Poland has made it more difficult to report on the crisis as authorities banned journalists and all other civilians from coming within 1.8 miles of the border.
In September, Foreign Policy published an account from Polish journalist Tomasz Gryzwaczewski. He wrote that “as authoritarian regimes seek to sow internal discord and chaos in Poland and the Baltics, their weapon of choice is helpless human beings.”