Migrants in Belarus: “We’ll wait until Germany takes us in”


Status: 20.11.2021 8:04 a.m.

You still have the EU target: many of the migrants in Belarus have meanwhile been brought from the forests to a warehouse. The conditions there are better, but there is still no perspective.

By Martha Wilczynski, ARD-Studio Moscow, currently Grodno / Belarus

Around 30 children crowd close to the barrier fence. Your clothes are dirty and scuffed. But her eyes shine with joy and excitement. “Yes, for everyone,” promises a tall, blonde woman in English. “I’ll bring you the surprises. OK?” When she returns a little later with a sack full of toys, there is no stopping it.

In the newly established refugee camp in Grodno, Belarus, there are toilets, tank trucks with fresh water and food trucks.

Viktor Liskowitsch looks at the scene with satisfaction. He is a member of the Belarusian Federation Council, responsible for the Grodno region – and thus also for the newly built refugee camp a few days ago in a logistics center not far from the Polish border. The toys, he explains, are donations from Belarusian children and families.

The children really wanted to, asked their parents, with the help of the teachers, to collect – not just toys. Also pens, coloring pads and much more so that the little ones in the camp can be children again.

“Thank you Belarus”

The Belarusian television teams also like the pictures. They film how Liskowitsch and his colleague encourage the group to shout English sentences into a megaphone: “I love Belarus” and “Thank you Belarus”. They also seem to like the fact that a German radio and television team is aware of these scenes – the cameras are often on us journalists directed.

On the site in front of the large warehouse there are toilets, tankers with fresh water and, more recently, trucks – as mobile kiosks and snack bars. In the hall, people lie close together – around 2000 should be accommodated here. It’s stuffy, everyone is coughing.

“You sleep for two minutes and for three you are awake,” says the 13-year-old Bahasch and shows her improvised sleeping area made of wooden pallets, blankets and a small tent. Sometimes it’s very warm, sometimes it’s cold. The doors kept opening and it got very cold.

Many want to go to Germany

Nevertheless, it is far better here than in the woods, where she and her family had stayed for days – in the hope that they might still make it across the border into the EU. Also because the Belarusian border guards behave very differently towards the refugees here. “They give us food, they give us sleeping bags – everything! They give us blankets. They help us somehow.”

What the refugees don’t get is a clear perspective. A plan of how things can go on for them. Like almost everyone here, Bahasch and her family want to go to Germany. They had had asylum there for a number of years, but no permanent residence status. It is her second and final attempt. The offer to fly back to Iraq via Minsk is not an option for them. “We’ll never go back. We’ll wait until Germany takes us in,” says Bahasch.

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