Stranded migrants beaten by Polish and Belarusian border troops

Groups stuck on the EU’s eastern frontier say member state Poland is illegally deporting them

Migrants stranded on the border between Poland and Belarus claim troops on both sides are “playing us like a football” as they mete out abuse and carry out illegal deportations from an EU country.

Men from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia tell harrowing stories about being beaten by Polish and Belarusian officials.

The EU accuses Belarus of orchestrating the crisis in retaliation for sanctions, and said Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is guilty of a “hybrid attack” on the bloc.

Last weekend three migrant men and a woman, all believed to be Iraqi citizens, were found dead near the 400-kilometre boundary.

Three men found dead on the Polish side of the border on Saturday died from hypothermia and exhaustion, officials said.

Clusters of migrants say they are being treated inhumanely by officials in Poland and Belarus.

One man, who gave his name as Kelly, and said he came from Nigeria, said troops were “playing us like a football”.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that those on the Belarusian side “would beat us, push us to Poland” before Polish guards would “catch us, beat us, push us back to Belarus”.

Michael, a migrant from Sri Lanka, said he had asked border guards to allow him to call his wife and three children but they refused.

“We have the same clothes, wash nothing, we are starving,” he said while stranded in a forest on the Polish side.

“When I asked to call my wife, no, they refused to give just one single-minute call.”

Another 21-year-old migrant said Belarusian police confiscated his phone before ordering him to cross into Poland.

Poland has introduced a policy of pushing migrants back over the border into its non-EU neighbour.

The UN says pushing migrants back is a breach of international law.

EU member states Poland, Latvia and Lithuania have all declared emergencies in response to the migrant crisis.

Poland and Lithuania are building razor-wire fences, have increased border patrols and introduced a temporary state of emergency along their borders to stop illegal migration.

Polish Border Guards spokeswoman Anna Michalska this week said that more than 3,800 attempts at illegal crossings from Belarus have been foiled so far in September.

She said more than 320 migrants were prevented from crossing from Belarus on Saturday alone.

Updated: September 24th 2021, 9:05 AM
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