Thousands of people are trapped on the border between Belarus and Poland. Approximately 6,000 men, women and children are out in temperatures falling as low as -10C as they attempt to cross the border into Europe. The events – geopolitical, national, personal – leading to this situation are complex, but one thing is certain: the people there need our practical support and solidarity today.
Originally published by Solidarity without Borders on Crowdfunder.
That’s why we’re organising this urgent fundraiser. Teams working on the ground in Poland have found that providing access to charged phones with SIM card credit is the single most important thing for those crossing the border.
£10 credit or a 10% battery top-up can mean the difference between accessing vital support services and being stuck outside overnight in sub-zero temperatures.
Many of those currently in the forests and makeshift camps on the Belarus-Polish border have arrived from South Kurdistan (northern Iraq) and nearby regions, fleeing inhumane conditions under the Barzani regime (the Kurdistan Regional Government). Where official channels are non-existent, the push to arrive in the EU is a desperate final plea for asylum.
The situation has been leveraged by the dictatorial Lukashenko regime in Belarus. To create a crisis on EU borders, visa restrictions were lifted to enable thousands of people to fly into Minsk, the capital. They were then led by Belarusian police and military officers toward the border with Poland who denied entry. The Belarusian regime is using horrifying levels of violence to force people to cross the border, including physical violence, using weapons, forcing people to go over a sharp barbed wire that the Polish government installed along the border and others.
For weeks now, attempts to cross the border have led to clashes and dozens of violent push-backs by Polish border guards, leaving thousands trapped out in the cold between two violent forces on both sides of the border.
We believe that people should be able to cross borders regardless of circumstances and the denial of this does not lead to prevention but only seeks to make the crossing incredibly dangerous.
Since August, 270 NGOs have been banned in Belarus, 1,000 political opponents jailed and, along the adjacent borders with Poland and Lithuania, a state of emergency has been declared, preventing solidarity groups, medical teams and media access. But some teams on the ground at the border remain active, and are still helping people cross.
They’re saying access to phones and the means to use them is the single most important thing anyone can help with from afar.
Without access to charging points and credit, people can’t contact family and friends waiting for them in countries inside EU borders or make sure their families back home know where they are. For many, a fully charged phone and enough credit is the difference between being able to access support services and getting trapped in freezing conditions where many have already died.
Donate today and every penny of this fundraiser will go on SIM card credit and power banks to charge phones on the border. Every £1000 we raise will be sent immediately to phone credit and power banks and will be making a direct effect on those that need our solidarity.