On the Polish-Belarus border, the fence is ‘just another obstacle’ in the way of migrants

reportageAfter being cut off from the world for ten months, residents living near the Polish-Belarus border continue to provide assistance to the many migrants still trying to reach the European Union.

In eastern Poland, at the end of the Manbij Forest Road, an imposing metal and concrete fence suddenly exploded in the middle of the primary forest, in the village of Bialowieza, which military convoys regularly cross. The 5.5-meter-high device, covered with barbed wire, runs 187 kilometers out of 418 kilometers from the common border with Belarus.

It was ratified by the Polish parliament in October 2021, and construction was officially completed on June 30. This is how the nationalist conservatives in power in Warsaw wanted to respond to what they describe “Hybrid War”Orchestrated last summer by the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. In 2021, Polish border guards recorded nearly 40,000 attempts to cross the Polish-Belarus border irregularly, a number that rose to 129 in 2020.

Paul Miklash, mayor of Koznica, near the Polish-Belarus border, in his office on July 5.
Puszcza Bialowieza National Park, Poland on July 5.

For these asylum seekers, coming from the Middle East and Africa, they were often subjected to repeated forcible returns at the Belarusian border. More than a dozen of them died in the Podlasie Forest. “They were not immigrants, they were part of the provocation of Lushchenko and Putin”keen to identify the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, on June 30, during the official opening of the fence in the north of the region, in Koznica. “The fence was expensive, of course, but it was the only way to secure this border as economic migrants were trying to cross.”Says Paul Miklass, mayor of this city of 1,700 residents.

illegal practice

In November 2021, journalists around the world covered the arrival of several hundred Iraqis and Syrians at the Koznica border crossing, which was immediately closed by the Polish authorities. According to Warsaw, up to 3,000 migrants set up a camp on the Belarusian side and tried to cross the border, but not without obstacles. “It was very surprising that nothing had happened before on such a tight boundary.”continues aedile, who then evokes a ‘unsustainable condition’ Sending military queues is welcomed immediately. Because Koznica, like the 182 municipalities around the border, found itself cut off from the world and militarized for nearly ten months.

Near the recently built wall on the border between Belarus and Poland on July 6.

From September 2021 to 1Verse July 2022, only residents were allowed to move beyond the barriers. Exit, journalists and non-resident NGOs. A decision that Paul Miklas deemed necessary, and pointed the finger at activists “Prompting locals to call Grupa Granica [un collectif citoyen venant en aide aux migrants coincés à la frontière] instead of reporting it to the police.. Rollbacks may have been codified by law in 2021, but several Polish courts have already ruled the practice against the law.

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