Migrant Crisis

Repatriation flights organized by the Iraqi government are sending people who had hoped to enter Poland through Bulgaria back home. Many people had tried desperately to enter the countries surrounding Bulgaria in hopes of finding some economic future. According to the New York Times, “One person who will board one of the repatriation flights said, ‘I wish I had died and they were bringing my corpse back.’” 

Many people are staying in Bulgaria, despite the “mistreatment and futility” because they still want to make it into the European Union. Originally, Alexander G. Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus, encouraged this undocumented entry and made it easy for immigrants to enter the EU illegally. In response to these accusations, according to a BBC news article, he said the accusations were “absurd.”

However, on both sides of the border, people are experiencing unsafe treatment and abuse. According to the New York Times, they are “abused on both sides of the frontiers and increasingly penniless, camped in freezing forests along the borders without adequate food, shelter or medical care.” 

People who are boarding the repatriation flights are also recounting stories where they felt deceived into leaving Bulgaria. In one instance a man said that he and his friends were driven into the Lithuania border without their passports, phones and cigarettes. He said, “They want us to die. They left us in a forest with no means of communication.” 

Currently, in the forests of Lithuania, there are still people who are facing unfair treatment and nearby residents are becoming aware of migrants hiding in the Bialowieza Forest. One resident said, “We used to come to the forest in search of the beauty of nature. Now we are looking for things that seem out of place.”  There are reportedly many activists and residents who are looking for the migrants who left the Middle East to help. 

One story reported on by the New York Times said, “Medical workers reported… they found a Syrian couple suffering from serious injuries, who said their one-year-old baby had died in the cold weeks ago, as they tried to make their way through the forest on both sides of the border.” 

The EU and Bulgaria are in the middle of talking about how to solve the issue. With Lukanshenko recommending a humanitarian pathway for the refugees and the EU promising to deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid in the crisis. In the article, Belarus- Poland Border Crisis, “In talks with Ms. Merkel [the German chancellor], Mr. Lukashenko reportedly proposed that the EU create a ‘humanitarian corridor’ that would allow entry into the bloc for 2,000 migrants, and that Belarus would repatriate 5,000 others to their countries.” 

However, the German chancellor has been noted to have declined the proposal. Via diplomatic channels, she said, “Germany did not agree to it. It’s a European problem where Germany does not act alone.” 

The Polish government is also accusing the Belarusian government of moving small groups of migrants into the less defended part of the frontier set up by officials in Poland. This defended frontier includes thousands of soldiers and water cannons to push the migrants back. 

In an article by the New York Times, “The Polish authorities released videos they claimed showed migrants being led by Belarusian security officers.” The country has also passed new policies to extend the country’s state of emergency as it deals with the migrant crisis. 

In the most recent news, the Belarusian government said it would be cutting off power to Ukraine. In the article, “Polar border crisis: Belarus moves migrants stranded in camp”, “In a statement, the Belarusian government cited ‘contractual relations’ as the reason for terminating electricity supplies. But it was not immediately clear if this was part of any retaliatory act by Belarus.”