November 29, 2021

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Trapped in the “terrible” jungle: The story of an immigrant on the border between the EU and Belarus

Trapped in a ‘horrible’ jungle: The story of an immigrant on the border between the EU and Belarus

Exhausted, trapped in the cold and “terrible” jungle, Lebanese barber Ali Abd al-Wareed says he regrets his attempt to enter the EU across the border between Belarus and Poland, an attempt that has already dragged on for eight days.

“It’s a tragedy. We don’t want our worst enemy (…) to be a dream,” the soft-spoken 24-year-old, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, told AFP.

Ali Abd al-Wareed was caught up in a ping-pong game between the two countries, sitting on a stack of pine needles and fallen leaves, near the small border town of Kleszczele in eastern Poland.

“I tried to cross five, six times, each time I was caught and taken back to the border,” he says in English.

The Belarusians, on the other hand, refuse to let him go back to Minsk, from where he takes a flight home.

Ali Abd al-Wareed quotes Belarusian agents as saying: “You have only two options – either die here or die in Poland. Time”.

One of the thousands of immigrants – mostly from the Middle East – tried to cross the 400-kilometer-long tree-lined border from August, admitting that the young man had escaped the financial crisis in Lebanon in search of a better life.

It cost him $ 4,000 from his native Becca region and he needed help from a company headquartered in Minsk.

The EU suspects Belarus of retaliating against European sanctions following the arrival of unprecedented immigrants into Polish territory, but the regime blames the West.

– “I feel like a toy” –

Poland has stationed thousands of troops on the country’s border, erected a barbed wire fence with razor blades and imposed a three-month state of emergency on the immediate border, banning journalists and even humanitarian organizations.

A group of Polish mothers, including the two wives of former presidents Jolanda Kwasnivska and Anna Komorowska, gathered near the border on Saturday to protest against the push-backs that Warsaw considers legal.

Sylvia Soraci, one of the protesters who gathered in front of the border security post in Mikhailov in eastern Poland, said, “We sympathize with the people in the jungle.

“This morning my sons asked me, ‘Mom, how do we spend the night in the woods too?’ It’s sad, it’s incredibly sad, “he told AFP.

Abd al-Wareed says he drank water that had accumulated in the leaves of the tree, was too cold to sleep, and was hit in the head by a Polish army or police officer.

Although he is “tired” and “destroyed”, he understands that the border guards are “doing their job”. “They are defending their country. We are the ones who are illegal. ”

On Friday, Ali Abd al-Wareed and some of his Syrian comrades were able to contact Polish human rights activists, who greeted them with warm clothes and food in the jungle and offered their support as soon as the guards arrived.

His fate remains uncertain, but he hopes the young man can seek refuge in Poland or at least return to Lebanon.

“Well, I don’t want to be here, you don’t want to be in Belarus. So kick me home. That’s all I ask, ”he says.

“Walking in the woods is horrible … I feel like a toy. Of course it’s my own decision to come, but it should not be treated like that,” he muttered.

“I refuse to die at the border. I want to see my mom again. ”

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