BERESTOVITSA, 1 September (BelTA) – Refugees from Afghanistan, who are now staying at the Belarusian-Polish border line, have received humanitarian aid from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Belarusian Society of the Red Cross, BelTA has learned.
As many as 32 refugees from Afghanistan have been stuck at the Belarusian-Polish border line in the area of the border guard station Rusaki for half a month.
According to Anton Bychkovsky, spokesman of the State Border Committee of Belarus, the situation threatens lives and health of the group of refugees, who were detained in Poland and delivered to the Belarusian-Polish border line. The official stressed that although the group is on the Polish side of the border, the State Border Committee of Belarus has demonstrated good will and found it necessary to let representatives of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Belarusian Society of the Red Cross enter the border line.
Representatives of the UNHCR and the Red Cross talked to the refugees and left articles of daily necessity at the border line.
Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Belarus Mulusew Mamo said: “This contact is very important. It is also important to provide these people with everything they need since they live in very bad conditions and the weather keeps changing.”
Natalia Tolkacheva, Chairwoman of the Grodno Oblast branch of the Belarusian Society of the Red Cross, said: “The Belarusian Red Cross traditionally helps people in difficult life situations, including migrants. Today we came to the border on a humanitarian mission. We brought the most necessary items – warm clothes and blankets, rain coats, basic hygiene items. The items also include potable water, tinned meat and fish, cookies.” The official stressed it is the first action like that but the Red Cross is ready to continue providing aid if necessary.
The refugees were grateful for the aid. One of the men said his name was Mohammed. In his words, the group of refugees is in very complicated conditions. The camp is located in a spongy lowland, everything turns to mud if it rains, and water gets inside the tents. “We are literally dying every day. There is no food, no clean water, it is very cold. I call upon all the governments of the world to hear us and help us. We cry every night,” he said. He stressed they receive no support from the Polish side. They had sent a request for asylum in Poland but no response has been received so far. The refugees have no idea how long the situation may last.
BelTA reported earlier that representatives of Polish law enforcement agencies dropped a group of refugees on the Polish side of the border in the area of the Belarusian border guard station Rusaki on 18 August. An attempt to move them into Belarus by force was made. The refugees – 32 citizens of Afghanistan, including five women – openly told representatives of Polish authorities about their intention to seek asylum and refused to cross the Belarusian border. As a protest they set up a makeshift camp in Poland's territory. The Belarusian border service spokesman Anton Bychkovsky stressed there are good access routes on the Polish side of the border. The State Border Committee of Belarus believes Poland should take all the necessary measures to resolve the situation, should let international human rights organizations and humanitarian organizations contact the refugees, and should process requests for refugee status or asylum.