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Over 2,700 people are showing interest or declaring participation in the Facebook event "Mothers on the border. The forest is no place for kids!".

The dire situation of refugees stuck on the Poland-Belarus border

- We are fed up feeling powerless. We can’t and don’t want to condone any more cruelty and torture. This inhuman treatment of migrants and refugees at the Poland-Belarus border, stripping them of their dignity, must stop immediately. We cannot just sit back and be passive while children are wandering in the cold, wet, and dark Polish forests without food, without water, without shelter, for weeks on end- write the event organizers, expressing a feeling of powerlessness and anger shared widely among human rights activists worried about the fate of refugees stranded on Poland’s eastern border.

On Saturday (October 23), concerned mothers from all over the country are to descend on the Podlaskie region in eastern Poland. They encourage everyone to join them: "Anyone and everyone is welcome".

"We are taking matters into our own hands. We can no longer be silent; we are organizing a protest. On October 23, we will stand along the border with Belarus and peacefully oppose the torture of migrants and refugee children, men, and women"- they announce.

The exact location and time of the protest will be announced on Friday (October 22).

Matki jadą na polsko-białoruską granicę. 'Nie można spokojnie spać, gdy ktoś umiera na progu'Matki jadą na polsko-białoruską granicę. 'Nie można spokojnie spać, gdy ktoś umiera na progu' Fot. Materiały prasowe

Mothers from all over Poland are joining the protest

Members of the Lower Silesian Women's Congress association who initiated the action didn’t expect that their protest would find so many supporters and that so many people disagreeing with how the Polish government is treating stranded refugees would want to manifest their dissent. They were hoping to see a few hundred participants showing up at two or three different locations. But it looks like many more are willing to join.

- Our actions are completely legal, we will stand right outside the area covered by the state of emergency – says Joanna Stańczyk from the Lower Silesian Women’s Congress. - However, we are convinced that the government is acting illegally, and so acts of civil disobedience should be expected at some point. How can you sleep at night when someone is dying on your doorstep?"-  she adds.

Those willing to join the Saturday protest can count on bus and car rides from various Polish cities. While the action was initiated in Wrocław, people from Warsaw, Kraków, Gdynia, Gdańsk, and smaller towns are joining in as well.

On Monday (October 18) afternoon, the organizers will launch a registration process for everyone willing to come to the protest by bus. They have already received many requests. The urge to show solidarity with the migrants and manifest dissent with the government’s migration policy is very strong.

- Even when you’re several hundred kilometers away from the eastern border, the awareness of what’s happening there still affects you very strongly. Every time you tuck in your own children and tell them good night, thoughts arise: what is happening to the children who are stuck in the forest? It is unbearable- Joanna tells us as her voice breaks. She couldn’t help to think of World War II parallels: - It is worth fighting for the dignity of these people.  One day we will look back at what we did at the border. It’s on us to make sure that our national conscience isn’t stained with shame.

The organizers of the protest emphasize that they understand the raison d'etre behind the government’s migration policy and the efforts of Polish authorities to seal the border, but they do not agree with how it’s being done. It should not happen at the expense of people’s life and health; it should not mean packing children into trucks and leaving them on a strip of no man's land or handing them over to Belarusian oppressors.

A fundraiser for refugees. Every little bit helps

The key demand of the protesters is that all human rights and humanitarian aid organizations, medics, and lawyers be allowed into the state of emergency zone immediately.

But the action also has another face. It serves to collect specific items requested by those helping directly at the border and in the state of emergency zone. They are in contact with humanitarian aid organizations and residents of the zone who are helping the migrants. There is an urgent need for good quality hiking shoes, warm sportswear - waterproof, temperature and wind-resistant, thermoactive underwear, winter jackets, thermos flasks, power banks, sleeping bags fit for extreme temperatures, used smartphones, energy bars, hand warmers.

The organizers encourage everyone to bring a protest sign and join the action.

- This is only the beginning of our actions. We will not stop until humanitarian aid organizations are allowed there - they announce.

For more information (in Polish) about the fundraiser and the protest, please see the following LINK. You can also contact the organizers by writing them an e-mail: matkinagranice@gmail.com.

Michałowo. Uchodźcy pod placówką SG błagają, żeby nie wywozić ich na BiałoruśMichałowo. Uchodźcy pod placówką SG błagają, żeby nie wywozić ich na Białoruś Fot. Agnieszka Sadowska / Agencja Wyborcza.pl


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