Every day according to schedule
Over the past two weeks, the camp has developed a certain routine. The morning traditionally begins with hot tea. A queue to get it is formed long before the appointed hour. Refugees are also given grocery and clothing packages. They have everything from milk to diapers and hygiene products. The Belarusian side made every effort to make people feel protected and comfortable. Since they were relocated to the transport and logistics center, more than 120 tonnes of humanitarian aid has been delivered, said Dmitry Shevtsov, Secretary General of the Belarus Red Cross. Many refugees keep in touch with relatives and friends: they learn the latest news, talk about their situation.
These days we talked a lot with refugees. They all agree on one thing: because of the critical problems at home, they have no choice but to make their way into the European Union.
"It's much better and warmer here at the transport and logistics center than outdoors," a young woman with three small children told us. “We have been in Belarus since the beginning of November. At first we lived in a forest camp on the border. It was very cold and scary. Many people ask us: why we want to get to Germany? The answer is simple. We want adequate education, quality medical care and a quiet life for ourselves and our children. It was the only reason why we undertook this difficult journey. They treat us well in the camp. We want to thank the Belarusians for this.”
We have heard words of gratitude to our country almost everywhere.
“We are very surprised by the Belarusian hospitality,” said Russian-speaking refugee Hasan who dreamed of becoming a football player in his homeland. “It is encouraging that our problems are not ignored at the highest level. I liked what your president said. We left Iraq for various reasons, but everyone has the same goal: to get to Germany or any other EU country where we can be granted asylum. We sincerely do not understand why we are not allowed to cross the border.
Kurd Amin doubled down on what his compatriot said. He has relatives in Germany who moved there a few years ago.
“We are very grateful to Belarus for comfortable conditions created for us. However, our goal has not changed: we will try to get to Germany. We have nowhere to return to,” he said.
People have a dream
The camp in the logistics hub will work until the last refugee leaves, said Grodno Oblast Deputy Governor Viktor Pranyuk:
“People have a dream. Each of them is waiting for the end of the negotiating process. And they hope for a positive outcome”.
Indeed, almost every refugee is waiting for the European Union to demonstrate its political will. People are aware of the complexity of the situation and sincerely hope for an early resolution of the problem.
“We understand that our fate depends on European politicians. That is why we are waiting for their good will. We have everything to wait for that moment. We want to get to Europe, to work there and be useful. Hear us, please,” said refugee Erbil.
Last week Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the logistics hub. The president studied the living conditions of refugees, food provision and met with volunteers and responsible officials. Talking with the refugees, the head of state said that Belarus would do its best to solve the issue as soon as possible:
“The only thing I can say: the situation will not become any better, unfortunately. We won't do anything by force. I promise you: everything that I and the Belarusian government can do, we will do it. We will continue asking Western countries to help you. It is not only a human problem. I look further: if we do not solve the problem of refugees in Belarus now, the situation will become much worse in winter already. We understand that a huge number of refugees will rush here and it will be impossible to contain them at the border,” the head of state stressed.
The International Red Cross has announced an emergency fundraiser for refugees stranded on the Belarusian-Polish border. It is expected that the assistance from the organization will amount to about €6 million.
A stationary clinic opened in the temporary accommodation facility for refugees on 30 November. It has the necessary equipment to provide emergency medical aid, including a cardiograph. About 100 people on average address the clinic every day. Most complaints concern chronic diseases unrelated to their stay at the logistics center.