‘We drank from puddles’: Migrants describe brutal journey through forests on Belarus-Poland border

Numerous migrants have actually been attempting to cross into Poland from Belarus, where authorities appear to have actually facilitated their passage into the European Union nation. Numerous have actually been stranded in the border location in freezing conditions.

Youssef Atallah, a 37-year-old Syrian, shown up in Poland just recently after his 3rd effort at crossing from Belarus. Speaking at a refugee center in Białystok, he remembered how upon getting to the border, Belarusian guards captured his group of 4 and he was beaten, leaving him with facial injuries, a damaged nose and bruised ribs.

“They took us to the forbidden area. That was the first try to cross the border to Poland,” he informed CNN. He stated the authorities declined to offer medical help and consistently informed them to head to Poland instead of go back to the Belarusian capital Minsk. While making the treacherous journey, Atallah stated he had no food and consumed water from an overload. He included, “I saw stuff left by another refugee group (and) I found a cube of sugar. I just start sucking on it because I can’t chew, I can’t bite or anything.”

One Syrian lady who CNN talked to in current weeks stated she had actually flown from the Lebanese capital Beirut to Minsk. From there she declares the Belarusian military assisted her and a group of other migrants get to the border location and cut the border fencing.

When Polish authorities consistently pressed the group back, the lady stated they asked Belarusian authorities for safe passage back to Minsk airport, so they might return to their native lands. She stated they declined.

The lady stated she wound up caught in the forest on the Belarusian-Polish border for 12 days prior to she had the ability to slip previous Polish authorities and cross the border into Poland. From there, she made her method to Germany — the wanted location for much of the migrants — after employing what she referred to as a “taxi” for $2,000.

Speaking with CNN numerous weeks back from a refugee center in the German town of Eisenhuettenstradt, the lady, who asked not to be called, stated: “I slept under a tree all the time. [The] first days we have a sleeping bag. [But] we lost everything when we walked [between] the trees.”

“Five days later we drink water from the floor. We don’t have anything, they didn’t help us,” she stated. “We put a bottle on the floor … we drank water from puddles.”

“We cannot drink from it in the morning because it is black,” she stated, choking back tears.

Migrants warm themselves by a bonfire in a camp on the Belarusian-Polish border on Wednesday.

Countless stranded individuals in between Poland and Belarus are captured at the center of a magnifying geopolitical disagreement that has actually pitted the EU, the United States and NATO versus the Belarusian federal government. Western authorities have actually implicated Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko of producing a migrant crisis on the EU’s eastern frontier to destabilize the bloc as retribution for sanctions over human rights abuses.

His federal government rejects the claims, and rather blames the West for harmful, often deadly, border crossings and bad treatment of migrants.

The Polish border guard stated it had actually taped 468 crossing efforts by migrants on Wednesday, and almost 600 the day in the past, consisting of some “large-scale” efforts with groups of more than 100 individuals attempting to breach the fence. Polish authorities have actually apprehended little numbers of individuals and right away sent out others back to Belarus.

Migrants wait on the Belarusian side of the border on Wednesday. Thousands are facing desperate conditions as they try to cross into the EU.

Migrants who CNN has actually talked to state they paid around $8,000 for their journey. “I went to Lebanon [from Syria]. From Lebanon, I went to the airport, on FlyDubai on a tourist visa to Belarus,” stated 27-year-old Syrian migrant Mohammad Nassar.

“At the airport, they treat you like a tourist. There’s a hotel. But as soon as you go to the border village of Harodnia, they start to treat you very badly,” stated Nassar. “For the last four days, we had no food. They gave us nothing. They only gave us water sometimes.”

Jino, a 17-year-old from northern Iraq, stated the Belarusian military carried her group into the back of a truck and carried them to the border.

“The Belarusians … sometimes they treated us bad, sometimes they treated us good,” stated Jino, who did not divulge her surname for security factors. “In my case, they brought us to the border in a truck … and they cut the [border] wire.”

Journalism officer for the Polish border guard, Katarzyna Zdanowicz, stated the circumstance in the Kuznica location was calm on Wednesday which migrants had actually gotten hot food and beverages from Belarusian servicemen over night.

Zdanowicz put the variety of migrants encamped along the border at around 4,000, pointing out border guard price quotes. She did not eliminate the possibility that more individuals were making their method towards the border location from other parts of Belarus. Nevertheless, the Belarusian State Border Committee stated Tuesday there were around 2,000 migrants at the scene.

Numerous Polish authorities have actually implicated Belarus of assisting migrants in efforts to cross the border. Deputy Interior Minister Bartosz Grodecki informed Polish media on Wednesday that migrants are “constantly transported to the border by the Belarusian services.”

Grodecki likewise declared that “apart from the Belarusian services, there are probably also representatives of the Russian services” amongst the crowds of migrants.

On Thursday, Russia rejected it was assisting migrants enter Belarus.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.