HEMMED in by razor wire at Europe’s newest migrant floor zero, shivering Mahamad Sexo’s hopes of ever reaching Britain look like fading.
As evening falls, and the temperature plunges towards zero, he begs me: “Please assist us. We are going to starve.”
Despairing Mahamad, 35, from Iraq’s Kurdish minority, reveals how again residence there’s “no work, no freedom and no hope”.
Now his journey to the UK is stalled in a godforsaken pine forest on the Belarus/Poland border, after Mahamad turned a human chess piece in a sport of worldwide brinkmanship.
Like hundreds of different migrants, many additionally Kurds, he was lured to Belarus by President Alexander Lukashenko for an unwitting position in its Russian-backed “hybrid conflict” with the European Union.
Referred to as Europe’s Final Dictator, Lukashenko’s safety goons then pushed a stream of migrants from Belarusian capital Minsk to the EU’s japanese border in Poland.
One household of Syrians was informed by Belarusian troopers final month: “Select demise or Poland.”
Rigidity constructed on Monday because the Belarusians escorted some 4,000 migrants to desolate borderlands close to the Polish village of Kuznica. The Poles have responded with an unlimited present of army muscle, forcing again determined migrants, together with youngsters and the aged, who had tried to make it throughout.
Snarling police canines
Some 100 cheering migrants pressured their manner by way of a fence yesterday solely to be met with extra guards and wire. Blanketed by freezing fog, they now stay sleeping tough or in ramshackle tents in marshy scrub as EU leaders concern the continent faces a contemporary migrant disaster.
Our Ministry of Defence revealed yesterday it had deployed assist on the Belarus border. A supply informed us: “Ten Royal Engineers are there to evaluate what we are able to do to assist make that border secure. We’re assured will probably be a prelude to a bigger effort to assist our Nato Polish allies.”
On the opposite facet of the border, Russian and Belarusian paratroopers carried out a drill 20 miles away. My efforts to talk to Mahamad face-to-face had been stymied by armed checkpoints after Poland threw up a two-mile exclusion zone round its japanese border with Belarus.
One soldier — his colleague with an assault rifle pointing skyward — informed me: “There’s a disaster and we don’t need the media there.” As a substitute, Mahamad despatched me WhatsApp messages and pictures to explain the abject distress he and different migrants are enduring.
The Kurd, from Ranya in northern Iraq, who flew into Belarus legally with a visa, messaged me: “Our lives are so dangerous. We don’t have sufficient water. Belarusian troopers give us some nevertheless it’s not good high quality. We sleep within the forest. It’s freezing.”
He despatched me footage of his severely wrinkled ft after they’d been drenched within the boggy wasteland. One other confirmed Mahamad and his mates huddled in sleeping luggage on open floor. An additional pitiful picture revealed two younger women holding up misspelt cardboard placards studying: “Please assist.” However heartbreakingly, one of many cherubic pair stated: “Nobody has come to assist.”
One other Kurdish migrant on the border, Mohammed Faysal, 23, from Kirkuk, Iraq, WhatsApped me to say: “I need you to make the world hear our voice. Many individuals listed below are ready for the border to be opened, they want meals.
The meals coming from the Belarus facet is just not sufficient and we’d like heat garments. “We aren’t criminals. We’re headed to the EU and need to reside in Europe as a result of we’re at risk in our personal nation.”
We used to catch migrants in droves right here. Now, neglect it, you’ll be catching them yourselves.
President Alexander Lukashenko
In August, I met dozens of Kurds from Iraq and Iran on the New Jungle close to Dunkirk, in France, who had been ready for a spot on an overcrowded dinghy to the UK.
Migrants are fleeing excessive unemployment, corruption and political instability in Iraq’s Kurdistan area. Persevering with battle between Turkey and the Kurdistan Employees’ Get together (PKK) — designated a terrorist group by Britain — has additionally pushed some to take flight.
Their plight is utilized by Lukashenko, a sinister Vladimir Putin mini-me, to settle scores with the West. He let hundreds from throughout the Center East fly to Belarus, visa-free or on vacationer papers, to encourage them to make for Europe. He goals to destabilise the EU in retaliation for rounds of sanctions.
These had been imposed following Belarus’s disputed 2020 presidential election, the hounding of political opponents and the pressured touchdown of a Ryanair jet carrying an opposition dissident in Minsk. Lukashenko bragged in Might: “We used to catch migrants in droves right here. Now, neglect it, you’ll be catching them yourselves.”
EU commissioner Margaritis Schinas stated: “This isn’t regular asylum seekers, fleeing from conflict or dictatorship, looking for the safety of Europe. They’re flown to Minsk, put in buses escorted by Belarusian police and particular forces and pushed to the border and into the EU.” Lukashenko denies he’s utilizing Mahamad and the others in a sport, insisting the migrant disaster has been attributable to wars fought by Western nations together with Britain.
He lashed out at these international locations for “destroying” Libya and Iraq, and “killing” tyrants Saddam Hussein and Colonel “Mad Canine” Gaddafi. Moustachioed Lukashenko stated of his fellow despots: “They had been the best thinkers. I met them and had superb, shut relations with them. These scum simply killed them.”
On the choke level close to Kuznica, migrants had been seen utilizing branches as battering rams and wire cutters in a bid to breach the border fence. One man, who seemed in his twenties, swung on the razor wire with a shovel earlier than being sprayed within the face with a liquid by Polish safety personnel.
Poland has bolstered troop and police numbers on the border to fifteen,000, with wailing sirens echoing by way of the misty birch woods. There are snarling police canines, mounted patrols and helicopters, in Poland’s greatest present of drive for the reason that finish of the Chilly Battle. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated on Fb that the Polish border “is sacred”.
Bison and wolves
He added: “Polish blood has been spilled for it.” Driving by way of desolate scrub-land near the frontier, I obtained a textual content message studying: “The Polish border is sealed. BLR [Belarus] authorities informed you lies. Return to Minsk. Don’t take any tablets from Belarusian troopers.”
It was despatched out to all overseas cell telephones within the space by the Polish authorities. A hyperlink to the textual content alleged that the tablets is likely to be toxic. The propaganda conflict continued on Wednesday, when Polish authorities posted two movies from the border which they claimed confirmed Belarusian troops firing into the bottom and struggling with folks. Belarus denied the claims.
Poland’s japanese flank has lengthy been on the migration path. Final month alone, 5,285 unauthorised migrants crossed the Polish-German border after coming from Belarus. Some take their possibilities on a brand new life in Europe by traipsing by way of Poland’s primeval Bialowieza Forest, 60 miles south of Kuznica, the place bison and wolves roam.
Polish charity teams attempt to help migrants stricken within the densely wooded swampland. One activist revealed: “Three Syrians had been discovered nearly drowned in a swamp. One was a lady, aged 18, who was almost unconscious. They’d been within the forest for 2 weeks. The lady was clinging to wooden within the water. The swamps catch folks unaware, particularly at evening.”
Not less than ten migrants have died crossing the border for the reason that summer season, many from hypothermia. Others make it throughout Poland to Germany and on to the shores of the English Channel. One other activist, from the Grupa Granica organisation, informed me: “I grew up on this space. Typically the snow is a metre excessive and the temperature can fall to -30C.
“We’re all terrified of what is going to occur within the subsequent few weeks. Will probably be f***ed up. We concern we are going to discover our bodies.” Volunteers imagine the exclusion zone is in place to cease the world seeing the Polish authorities’ often-violent pushing again of migrants into Belarus. The Docs With out Borders charity describes migrants “overwhelmed with the butt of a gun, kicked within the ribs and electrocuted within the neck” by Polish and Lithuanian border guards.
We’re all terrified of what is going to occur within the subsequent few weeks. Will probably be f***ed up. We concern we are going to discover our bodies.
Activist, from the Grupa Granica organisation
In Polish border city Michalowo, volunteer Tomasz Jochymski, 32, types meals, garments and nappies for the migrants.
He stated: “Individuals residing close to the border attempt to assist the migrants. Aged ladies make sandwiches. Poles like to assist, we’ve had a troublesome historical past ourselves.” He stated of Lukashenko: “I don’t perceive how one can play politics with folks’s lives.”
The Polish authorities insists Putin is Lukashenko’s puppet grasp. On Thursday, Russia dispatched two nuclear-capable bombers on a coaching mission over Belarus for the second time in two days.
Lukashenko stated the flights had been in response to the troop build-up in Poland, including: “Allow them to scream and squeak. Sure, these are nuclear-capable bombers, however now we have no different selection.”
He has additionally threatened to show off Russian gasoline pipelines operating by way of Belarus to Western Europe. The EU is planning additional sanctions in opposition to Belarus following Lukashenko’s “gangster-style” provocations.
In the meantime, within the depressing woodlands, Mahamad prepares for one more freezing evening on Europe’s border — a wretched pawn in a morally bankrupt dictator’s evil sport.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4057647/horror-belarus-twisted-regime-migrants-beaten/ | Contained in the horror of Belarus’ twisted regime the place migrants are overwhelmed with weapons, kicked within the ribs and electrocuted