Fear that hundreds will die

Fear that hundreds will die

In the border areas of eastern Poland, mysterious things are happening, and Deputy Mayor Conrad Sikora does not like it.

The ever-increasing number of military trucks in his city has begun to cover his license plates 24 hours a day. The two-kilometer-wide strip on the border with Belarus is off-limits to unauthorized persons.

It’s almost like they want to hide something, says Sikora, who takes us through the almost empty streets in the direction of the fire station in Michello.

What he wants to show is the humanitarian mood of the village, amidst the many fears that refugees could be catastrophic.

Denial: Deputy Mayor Conrad Sikora is concerned about the handling of the refugee crisis by Polish authorities. Photo: Aage Aune, TV 2.

– This is our inventory. Here we get relief supplies from all over Poland. There are new loads every day, the deputy mayor says proudly.

Ping Pong

Michelo has become a minor sensation in Poland since local authorities launched a fundraising campaign to help migrants on the border.

These are people who don’t want the country people to know.

In their thousands, they sit and wait for the opportunity to pass through the barbed wire fence set up by Polish soldiers.

If they are caught, they will be expelled directly under the new law passed by the Polish parliament.

– Belarusian soldiers are waiting there armed and demanding that they return to Poland. Sikora said it would be like a ping pong match between Poland and Belarus.

He believes the government in Warsaw should build refugee camps instead of opening its eyes to what is happening now and believing the problem will disappear automatically. For now, the harsh winter will soon begin in the Polish jungles.

– It will end in tragedy. He tells TV2 that if no one does anything soon, there will be hundreds of corpses in the woods here when spring comes.

Strictly prohibited

On Wednesday, the TV2 crew tried to cross the border to observe the situation with their own eyes. About two kilometers away, we were stopped by heavily armed police without any explanation.

Maria Slonkievich, a spokeswoman for the Border Group, a group of volunteers who want to help immigrants, says the so-called security zone is actually set up without witnesses to the atrocities taking place there.

– This can certainly be called a humanitarian crisis. We help workers believe that bodies will start to accumulate if we are not allowed into the restricted zone soon, Slonkievich tells TV2.

Voter: Maricia Slonkievich, spokeswoman for the Association of Voluntary Organizations trying to help refugees.

Voter: Maricia Slonkievich, spokeswoman for the Association of Voluntary Organizations trying to help refugees. Photo: Aage Aune, TV 2.

But despite the massive security obligation, some are lurking in Poland and Germany. The “Border Group” is now focusing on these people.

Through their network, immigrants were told how to contact Polish volunteers, and they would usually make noise at night when there was no food, water or medicine.

From night to Thursday, the alarm sounded again. A group of 30 Iraqis, including 16 children and a heavily pregnant woman, sat in the swamp wet, tired and hungry and needed help.

– The whole operation lasted six hours. This is the heaviest of our interventions. We have never seen anything like this in our working life, The doctors who came to rescue them write on Facebook.

Many thousands will enter

Poland and the Baltic states Accuses Belarus’ dictator Alexander Lukashenko launched a refugee crisis in May in retaliation for EU sanctions against the country.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly.  This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border.  Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back.

Emergency: Over the past year, the number of migrants on the border between Belarus and Poland has increased rapidly. This led to a state of emergency and a press ban on the 480-kilometer-long border. Local organizations and ordinary people will help those in need, and the Polish government will send everyone back. Photo: Aage Aune / TV 2

After first arriving by plane from the Middle East, the Belarusian soldiers almost gathered the immigrants to the border and told them how to get to the neighboring countries.

If the immigrants are stopped and deported, the Belarusians demand that they try again.

– Since we do not enter the border area, we can only estimate how many people are involved. But we think there are several hundred on the Poland side and many thousands on the Belarusian side of the border, says Slonkievich on the border group.

Poland’s refugee policy is now being criticized domestically and by EU politicians. At the same time, neighboring countries, especially Germany, are aware that a new wave of refugees, as we saw in 2015, may soon arrive and that the poles have so far been able to keep the situation under control.

In Germany, the number of asylum seekers has increased by 35 percent compared to last year, and German authorities are now sending troops to Poland to assist in border security.

TV2 tried to contact the Polish Border Guard Service to get feedback on the situation in the border areas, but did not receive an answer to our inquiry.

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About the Author: Will Smith

Alfred Lee covers public and private tech markets from New York. He was previously a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University, and prior to that was a reporter at the Los Angeles Business Journal. He has received a Journalist of the Year award from the L.A. Press Club and an investigative reporting award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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