Polish locals secretly help migrants cross Poland-Belarus border
By Pablo Gonzalez
Hajnowka, Poland, Dec 1 (EFE).- As it gets quieter on the eastern front, Polish teacher Katarzyna Wappa is secretly continuing to offer help to migrants seeking to access territories of the European Union from her border town of Hajnowka.
“We park our cars in a safe area so that they do not see us and follow us. We do not want the border guards or the police to see us for security reasons, not for our sake, but for those people who are in the forest,” Wappa tells Efe.
“We receive a call, we have a location on google maps. We prepare the necessary things. We try to ask questions such as how big the group is, if they are men, women, children if they need a doctor.
“We load everything in our cars. We usually go in pairs. It is safer and easier to carry everything.”
Like other activists, Wappa goes into the forests to help migrants, mainly from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, trying to enter Poland via its border with Belarus.
The deteriorating weather conditions and Polish security forces have halted the massive attacks against the border. Entering the EU is more difficult and risky but local inhabitants, doctors, volunteers, and activists help the few who succeed in getting in.
Over the past months, thousands of migrants have attempted to cross into the EU, a situation described as a “hybrid warfare” by Warsaw, which has accused Minsk of orchestrating the border crisis in retaliation for EU sanctions.
When the Polish authorities prohibit this humanitarian work, it leaves activists “discouraged, because when you do something secretly people wonder whether this is legal, whether it could get them arrested or punished in some mysterious way,” according to Wappa.
“It is something that shouldn’t happen in a democratic country,” she adds.