AGI – Europe cannot turn away and ignore the requests for thousands of migrants, abandoned to their fate in the cold of a forest on the eastern border of the Union. This is the appeal of the MEPs of the S&D group Pietro Bartolo, Brando Benifei and Pierfrancesco Majorino, on a mission on the border between Poland and Belarus, where a few thousand people coming mainly from Syria and Iraq try to enter the European Union to submit an asylum request, “as is their right”. Pietro Bartolo, who has been dealing with migration issues since he was on the front line as a doctor from Lampedusa and now as a MEP from Strasbourg, talks about it to Agi by telephone from Poland.
Mothers separated from their children
“A young Syrian mother was admitted to a Polish hospital: she was beaten and separated from her children. When he comes out he won’t know where to find them. A family had left the “red zone” of the border because they wanted to buy shoes for their little girl who had lost them. Not only were they not allowed to do this, but the police loaded them into a van and sent them back to the forest, “Bartolo said. very upset despite his long experience in Lampedusa has seen thousands of migrants in very serious difficulty and many deaths.
“We wanted to come and see for ourselves what the situation is, as previously done in Greece and Bosnia, to witness our proximity not only to migrants but also to those who try to help them: in Poland they risk up to 5 years in prison just to bring food or a blanket to those families who suffer from the cold and hunger in the forest ”, he explains.
Climate of fear even among the volunteers
“The climate is one of fear: those who help migrants do not want to appear, the testimonies are anonymous, on the part of people who risk ending up in prison on charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration. Local institutions, doctors and activists are also intimidated by the choices of the Warsaw government which orders them not to help those people. I find it an immoral way to behave: the police have orders to bring back to the forest those who try to come out and invoke the right to seek asylum, but here at night the temperatures drop below freezing and people are dying. There are no official figures, since it is impossible to check, but the dead are at least 20 “.
Bartolo again stresses that “if Europe is turning the other way, the Polish government is instead active with walls, violence and barbed wire. The European Union should not allow it, this is not our Europe ”.
Now the three MEPs are leaving for Brussels, but “with my back to that dark and cold forest – concludes the former doctor from Lampedusa – I felt ill. From today we will put all the pressure we are capable of on the EU institutions to do something to help a few thousand people who are asking only to survive. By leaving them to their fate, we show Lukashenko’s Belarus that his actions and threats work ”.