He was only 1 year old and had been stuck with his parents on the border between Poland and Belarus for a month and a half. On Thursday night, rescuers from the Polish Center for International Aid found him in the woods near the border, and they could do nothing but confirm his death. He was killed by the cold in an area where temperatures drop below zero every evening. His parents, a Syrian couple, were injured as well: “The man had a wound in the arm and the woman a stab wound in the leg,” explained the volunteers of the Center.
Including the small Syrian boy, at least 13 people have died since Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko began amassing migrants at the border with Poland: “It is heartbreaking to see a child die of cold at the gates of Europe. The exploitation of migrants and asylum seekers must stop, inhumanity must stop,” commented European Parliament President David Sassoli.
Although things are moving, the tug-of-war between Minsk and the European Union is still far from being resolved. On Thursday, the Belarusian authorities evacuated the makeshift tent city at the Bruzgi pass, transferring men, women and children to a nearby center, where at least a thousand of them slept on the ground. The news of the evacuation of the camp was also confirmed by Polish sources. In addition, the first Iraqi Airlines flight took off from Minsk airport with 431 Iraqis who voluntarily chose to be repatriated.
“We are keeping our promises. In the meantime the EU has not fulfilled any of its own obligations,” said a spokesman for the government in Minsk. This was most likely a reference to the rumors circulating in recent days, and spread by Belarusian sources, according to which Lukashenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are said to have agreed on the opening of a humanitarian corridor to bring to Germany 2,000 of the 7,000 migrants who are still in the country, according to Minsk, while the remaining 5,000 would be transferred from Belarus to their countries of origin, mainly Syria and Iraq.
However, Berlin flatly denied the existence of such an agreement, and in particular Interior Minister Horst Seehofer denied that the country had yielded to pressure from Minsk. “The Poles are not only following their own interests. They are also acting in the interests of the whole European Union,” he reiterated.
Certainly, the rumored initiative of Chancellor Merkel, who wants to avoid new mass arrivals of migrants to Germany, is displeasing to more than one European capital, starting from Warsaw, where the government has threatened to suspend rail traffic with Belarus if the situation at the border is not stabilized by November 21. Criticism of Merkel also came from Lithuania, while Brussels said that contacts with Minsk were only “technical” in nature: “We will hold technical talks with UN agencies, particularly UNHCR and IOM and the Belarusian counterparts to facilitate the repatriation of people who are at the border,” said a spokesman for the EU Commission, confirming the sanctions adopted against Minsk.
On Thursday, the Russian president, who supports Lukashenko, accused the West of using the migrant crisis “as a new reason for tension in a region close to us, for putting pressure on Minsk.”