Through Belarus through the “Polish Forest” to Germany: “It was very dangerous”

Through Belarus through the "Polish Forest" to Germany: "It was very dangerous"

Tamam’s story is difficult to verify. However, it is a story as many in the reception center tell it. The family is from Kurdistan, the older man is from Iraq, the group of young people are from Yemen, Palestine and Syria: they all say they came via Belarus. They also talk about wandering at night in cold forests, without food and water. Most of them also talk about the sums they paid the smugglers: 3,000 euros, 7,000 euros.

Unexpectedly fast increase

Only a few people crossed the Polish-German border illegally between January and September. Since then, this number has grown rapidly. Last month, more than 1,500 people attended, now about 120 a day.

This rapid increase was unexpected, says Olaf Jansen, president of the Eisenhutenstadt Reception Center. “You can’t expect a country to help people smuggle.” Refers to Belarus.

After the European Union imposed sanctions on the country for human rights violations, it became clear that Belarusian President Lukashenko is no longer preventing migrants to the European Union. According to the European Union, it encourages them, including by facilitating the issuance of visas. There are stories of people being dropped off at the border near Poland.

The fact is that the shelter in Eisenhutenstadt is filling up. And that about 90 percent of the people here, like Tammam, came through Belarus, says Janssen.

Why are there still enough shelters in Germany

The reception center can still accommodate everyone, Jansen says, because we learned from the mistakes of 2015 and 2016. Then large groups of immigrants came to Germany and reception could no longer cope. This is why a step-by-step plan is developed later.

“We’ve followed that plan now.” Which is why there are not 800 places here now, as there usually are, but 2,000 already. Of these, 1,300 beds are currently occupied.

We can still handle it,” Jansen said. According to him, there is no doubt about a situation like 2015.

Meanwhile, the German government deployed an additional 800 agents for the Polish border inspections. Not to get people back to Poland, but to register as many people as possible and catch people smugglers.

Path uit Eisenhüttenstadt

Tammam does not know what will happen to him yet, and he must wait and see. His goal is to learn German as quickly as possible, find a job and bring his family to Germany. His son is a week old, he was born when he was completely asleep in the forest between Belarus and Poland. It is unclear when he will see him.

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