And Belarusian President Lukashenko threatens a gas blockade to Europe
WOLKUSZE (Poland-Belarus border)
This story had everything to be a happy ending. But desperation hits rock bottom and digs with a man who screams hoarsely at a woman. Around there is a foggy forest and a cold night coming. He is an accountant who stamps his feet on dead leaves, pulls his wet hair, chokes the thin trunk of a birch. The children crouch against the front wheel of the car that will leave without them. She is a volunteer: she has a thermos of sugared tea, biscuits, aspirin. Already this evening they could be at a lawyer, officially asylum seekers. That would mean a roof, hot meals, a doctor. She, a Polish woman, watches the boys tremble and her eyes get wet. He, a Lebanese, is exhausted, hungry, with two children who are worse off than their father. It’s a family of soaked jackets, pants and shoes. The broken capillaries in the eyes. The shoulders shook with shivers. But the accountant yells that there is the Dublin Agreement and he doesn’t want the lawyer, he doesn’t want the photos, he doesn’t want to be registered here. He shouts more to himself than to her. He wants Germany and if he has to drown in the frozen fog, he will drown.
This was not the case when they left at 3.30 from Beirut airport two weeks ago. There was the mother to greet them with the little sister, the grandparents. It was hot, the jackets were in the handbag. One cell phone each in his pocket, dollars sewn into his pants. They thought they had thought of everything. They had one power bank and, by heart, the codes of the online bank, the numbers of the cousins in Germany and the “smugglers” in Poland. The accountant is 38 years old, his children 12 and 14. He has always worked in the bank like his wife, but the branch has been closed for 13 months and savings are dropping visibly. “Staying in Beirut means falling into poverty. In Germany, however, I can do it, I will not be an accountant, but I will be a better house painter than many others. They will have a life ».
«First the stopover in Istanbul, then welcomed in Minsk by the agency that provided us with the visas. On the minibus with other Arabs from Iraq, Syria, Kurdistan we paid the amount agreed on Telegram. Five thousand dollars each. Family discount. Others also paid 7 thousand. It included a hotel and transport to the European Union border. We’re going to Lithuania, they said. But we prefer Poland, we must reach Germany. They wanted to kick us out, but I paid. A thousand dollars. The second day the agency took us to a bus. Get off at the terminus, there will be someone waiting for you. There was nobody”.
They wandered, phoned, asked for help until the police arrived. Two nights in jail, then released, but with no money or phones. “It was last week. Since then we have been to Poland three times, always picked up and sent back. I paid for a hotel in Belarus online, but the police arrested us and that time they beat me with electric batons. They wanted the money. They threatened to take my children away, to send us to Syria. I resisted. The next day we were still on the border with a lot more people. I understood that I was on the edge, I could no longer be wrong. People were pressing on the barbed wire, but there were too many Poles there and with stinging sprays. Three nights in the cold, without shelter. I didn’t know that cold swollen hands burned. We left the group and walked along the border ».
Here they are in Poland, beyond the militarized zone, reported to the volunteer by a farmer. With her in front of them, they can seek asylum in Poland, but the hope is stronger than shivers and fear. Her car drives off. The man smuggler, he swore on his cell phone, will arrive today. Hosting or transporting them is illegal, leaving blankets is not. The man and his children stay one more night, to frost. Like the thousands still beyond the barbed wire. In compliance with the laws.
It is on lives like theirs that politics continues to play. Belarusian President Lukashenko threatens to close the gas pipeline that “warms Europe”
. “Think carefully before imposing other sanctions on us.” True. He and we, however, slept warm.
November 11, 2021 (change November 11, 2021 | 22:17)
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