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Polish mothers rally in solidarity with migrants

October 24, 2021

Protesters at a village on Poland's border with Belarus are demanding the government drop a state of emergency to allow aid workers to help stranded migrants.

A woman holds a banner at a protest initiated by Polish mothers
Polish mothers rallied near the border with BelarusImage: Wojtek RADWANSKI/AFP

Polish mothers protested on Saturday against migrant pushbacks at the border with Belarus and demanded they get humanitarian help.

The protests come as thousands of migrants, including children, were left to freeze in a forested no man's land between Belarus and Poland.

What do the organizers want?

Protesters carrying signs like "Border of Death" and chanting "shame" and "no one is illegal" called on the Polish government to lift a three-month state of emergency so that aid workers could help migrants.

Women at the protest
A couple of hundred demonstrators staged the protest at the border guard facilityImage: Maciej Luczniewski/imago images/NurPhoto

"We can't stand idly by when children are spending weeks in cold, wet, dark forests on Polish territory — without food, drink and access to shelter," the organizers of the protest said.

Former Polish first ladies Jolanta Kwasniewska and Anna Komorowska joined the protest in front of the Border Guard headquarters in Michalowo,eastern Poland, on Saturday, the Polish news agency PAP reported.

The protest, held under the banner "Mothers at the Border," called for better care of young people.

"We particularly reject the inhumane treatment of children," Komorowska said. She is married to Bronislaw Komorowski, who was president from 2010 to 2015.

Danuta Walesa, wife of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lech Walesa also supported the appeal.

Migrants stuck in cold at EU border

State of emergency at the border

The Polish government built a barbed-wire fence along the Belarus border and declared a state of emergency that stopped journalists and charities from accessing the area.

Migrants trying to cross the border into the EU have been forced back by thousands of extra border guards drafted in by Poland. Belarusian forces have also blocked the way back, leaving the migrants with nowhere to go.

The Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish authorities blame neighboring Belarus for the human catastrophe.

Poland denies pushing migrants back to Belarus

They accuse Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of flying in the migrants in a bid to hit back at harsh EU sanctions over a harsh crackdown on dissent.

Exhausted and suffering from the cold, the migrants try nightly to reach Poland but are often attacked and pushed back to their original location.

jc/fb (AFP, dpa)