Above: Migrants aiming to cross into Poland warm themselves after a fire broke out at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region on November 16, 2021.
Thousands of migrants have gathered to cross the Belarus border in recent weeks to break into the European Union through Poland, sparking a refugee crisis.
It is believed that 3,000 to 4,000 people are now stranded on the border between the two countries, but the exact number is difficult to know as the media has been cordoned off from the area.
Migrants are also being denied humanitarian aid, while temperatures in the woodland drop below zero degrees Celsius.
Polish authorities are now using tear gas and water cannons against the refugees after allegedly showing “aggression” and throwing stones at border guards, according to Poland’s Ministry of National Defense.
The border has now become a state of emergency and is inaccessible to the media, human rights groups and citizens who are not local to the area.
Marta Simanderska of the NGO group Grupa Granica told Al Jazeera: “The use of force is completely inappropriate because there are legal procedures that must be used from the start.
“The actions of the Polish forces are not only illegal, but also inhumane.”
How do we get here?
Minsk – the capital of Belarus – reduced the visa requirement for citizens of Middle Eastern and African countries earlier this year, while Belarusian tourism agencies began to offer cheaper and easier ways to get to Europe.
Then in August, Polish guards began denying anyone arriving from Belarus the right to cross the border and claim asylum, but this escalated as the number of refugees increased on 8 November.
Why are refugees trapped?
The European Union has therefore accused Belarus of encouraging migrants towards the border to try to destabilize the bloc, although the country has denied the allegation.
The Polish Border Guard claimed: “Everything is happening under the supervision of the Belarusian forces.”
It is said it may be an act of vengeance against Poland as it supported civilian protests against Belarusian ruling President Alexander Lukashenko last year.
Poland has also passed a law that allows troops to push back migrants, although this has raised eyebrows in the international community.
While the blame game continues, thousands of refugees are stranded in the no-man’s land between the two countries, spending weeks in the jungles.
A child with ‘Help’ written on his forehead at the Belarusian border.
Several thousand migrants have approached the Belarusian-Polish border and set up a tent camp there; Some of them tried to cross the border by breaking the barbed wire fence.
A transport and logistics center in Brzegi has been offered as temporary accommodation for migrants on the Belarusian-Polish border.
Migrants traveling on the border to the Transport and Logistics Center in Bruzzi.
Migrants aiming to cross into Poland warm themselves by fire at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region, pictured Tuesday, November 16.
Migrants camped in a hall on the border with Poland.
Polish riot police officers and migrants are seen near the Brzegi-Kuznica crossing point on the Belarusian-Polish border. Polish border guards use tear gas and water jets to disperse the migrants.
Migrants aiming to cross into Poland gather at the Brzegi-Kuznica border crossing at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region on November 16, 2021.
Migrants queue to cross the border with Poland for some food and drink.
Migrants camped in a hall on the border with Poland as the humanitarian crisis continued.
Irregular migrants cross the Polish border as Polish security forces take measures at the Belarus-Polish border.