Refugees arrived at the Polish-Belarusian border because the Belarusian government was helping them arrive at the border. The Belarusian government told refugees they were going to be let into the EU which was a lie. Belarus was doing this as a response to the sanctions the EU (European Union) has imposed on its government. In short, refugees were being used as a political weapon. Then, Poland, the EU, and Belarus decided to let refugees sleep in the cold without any humanitarian assistance. Poland and the EU did not allow humanitarian organizations, medical care nor journalists to be present at the border. Refugees were not given food, access to medical care, blankets, clean water, clothing, etc. All Poland and the EU cared about was not giving in to Belarus’ political strategy. The only thing Belarus cared about was getting back at the EU.
The EU vs. Belarus vs. refugees
Belarus had no right to risk people’s lives for political gain. However, the EU’s response to refugees at the border was dehumanizing because leaving people at the border was not the answer. The ones who always lose are refugees. Belarus knew the EU doesn’t want refugees in their countries so Belarus used them. Also, Belarus knew Poland and the EU wouldn’t let them across the border which is why there were so many there. Women, children, families were trying to cross into the EU but were forced to sleep in freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, many have died on the border including children.
Since many were forced to camp on the border, many families were separated either in the forest or at the border. Women lost their children while walking in the forest at night and others had miscarriages. In addition, women are struggling to feed their children because they have no access to food. Technically, not even adults have access to food or clean drinking water. Belarusian guards gave refugees dirty water to drink, and they all got sick. They are even trying to sell refugees water bottles or a biscuit for $50 because they know parents will pay for it. It’s dehumanizing and unacceptable that refugees have had to bear these conditions.
No one wins
Many refugees are coming from the Middle East and Northern Africa where they’re escaping poverty, war, climate change, etc. Clearly, they have nothing to go back to. The EU could have handled this situation better and held Belarus accountable without risking innocent lives. Refugees have the right to seek asylum and live in any country they choose. The other problem is that medical care and humanitarian organizations were not allowed at the border. This is because the EU and Poland probably did not want to humanize the situation. Moreover, they didn’t want people to see the horror that was happening to refugees and the problem it grew into. It was easier for them to keep it hidden.
The issues between the EU, Poland, and Belarus aren’t going to solve themselves anytime soon and it’s all complicated. It’s unfortunate that so many refugees are having to go through such loss and trauma. They deserve better. Let’s remember that refugees are people, and they deserve all the care and respect in the world. They are just looking for a safe place to live, a good job, and the ability to provide for their families. How many more refugees must die at the border for governments to treat them as humans? At the Poland-Belarus border and the US-Mexico border. Governments can do better. We must demand they do better.