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Poland confirms Belarus border camp now evacuated as migrants take shelter


Belarusian authorities said the migrant camp on the border with Poland has been cleaned up and its residents have now been moved to a nearby shelter. In the meantime, several hundred have been repatriated to Iraq, having given up all hope of reaching Europe.

“As of November 18, all refugees from the makeshift camp on the Belarusian-Polish border near the Brouzgui crossing point have been voluntarily transferred to a logistics center,” Belarusian border guards told Telegram. Photos of the apparently abandoned camp have been released.

Polish border guards have confirmed the evacuation of the camp, which comes after a week of growing tensions between Belarus and the European Union.

This decision is seen as a sign that the contested leader of the country, Alexander Lukashenko, accused of orchestrating the crisis, is now keen to defuse it.

As of Tuesday evening, more than a thousand people had already taken refuge in a large hangar near the border, but some 800 others, according to Minsk, had still spent the night outside in freezing temperatures in tents or near fires. of camp.

According to Belarusian border guards, they were eventually relocated due to “deteriorating weather conditions”, and were able to receive “hot meals, warm clothes and basic necessities” in the hangar.

In the latest in a series of human tragedies set in the cold and humid forest, a Polish NGO said on Thursday it had helped a Syrian couple who said they had lost their one-year-old son.

“It is heartbreaking to see a child freeze to death at the gates of the EU”, tweeted The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli. “The exploitation of migrants and asylum seekers must end, inhumanity must end.”

The makeshift camp has been occupied by some 2,000 people in recent days. It was installed in a wooded area not far from the Brouzgui border post where, on Tuesday, hundreds of migrants were confronted with water cannon fire and tear gas from Polish forces.

The Belarusian presidency said Thursday afternoon that between 200 and 500 more people remained scattered elsewhere along the border with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. Some 5,000 more are in the country, he added.

Minsk said that during talks between Alexander Lukashenko and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor said she wanted to see a “humanitarian corridor” to evacuate some 2,000 migrants from the camp to Germany, which Berlin denied.

Thursday evening, 431 migrants were repatriated to Iraq, most of them to Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan where the majority are from, the others to Baghdad.

Many children and women were on the repatriation flight, the first since the start of the migration crisis, which Baghdad said was organized “on a voluntary basis”.

Belarus, an ally of Russia and under European sanctions due to the repression of its opposition, is accused by the EU of having encouraged the arrival of these migrants to destabilize the bloc.

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euronews Gt

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