Syrian refugees stranded on the Belarus-Poland border, particularly those opposed to the al-Assad regime, are still waiting for a “solution” to their crisis, while they endure freezing weather. Now, authorities in Belarus have given them two options: deportation to Syria or remaining in the forest at the border.
“There is a plane leaving Belarus for Syria on Wednesday at 3 and a half, and several Syrian refugees have decided to return. However, refugees wanted by the regime cannot return to Syria from elsewhere, for fear of arrest,” Activist Nawal Sofi said. She added: “These people are hiding in houses for fear of arrest and are still trying from time to time to enter Poland.”
The activist described the situation at the border as critical due to extreme cold and snowfall, as asylum seekers receive no assistance.
Activists of different nationalities launched a donation campaign to deliver food and assistance to Syrian asylum-seekers hiding in the houses they rented, especially since their money will soon run out.
Campaigners have been trying to buy airline tickets for Syrian asylum seekers to travel to the UAE or Turkey. But since the EU threatened to impose sanctions on airlines transporting asylum seekers from Middle Eastern countries to Belarus, many flights between Turkey, the UAE, and Belarus have been canceled. This has resulted in many asylum seekers forfeiting their tickets in the past few days, for which they have not been compensated.
Refugee rights organizations have criticized the threat of sanctions as aimed at making Europe a “fortress” and undermining the EU’s reputation for humanitarian dealings with asylum seekers.
EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Yelva Johansson, told a press conference that the situation at the borders of EU countries and Belarus was “unprecedented, which explains why we are taking all these measures.” She noted that the EU response is aimed at “containing the escalation.”
Amnesty International said that the situation could have been completely controlled by existing rules. IOM for Europe, Yves Gede, said that “the proposals made today will punish people in exchange for political gain, weaken asylum protections, and undermine the EU’s standing both internally and externally.”
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.