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‘Please save us’: Refugees face death on the Polish-Belarus border | Migration Issues

Thousands of refugees and internally displaced persons trying to cross the European Union have been stranded on the Belarus border. Poland has refused to participate in the conflict with Belarus. Fear for their safety is growing during the winter, lack of basic necessities and medical care, and the deaths of people on both sides of the border. Nidal Ibrahim, a displaced Syrian refugee, tells Al Jazeera’s Sara Cincurova of the ordeal she and others endured. Here is her story in her own words.

I am Nidal Ibrahim from Aleppo, aged 37, and dying.

My friend Muhammad and his four children came to the Belarus border with other refugees. We had hoped to reach Europe, but now we live in tropical forests, drinking in the swamps, without food. The outside temperature is -5 or -7.

I am alive because I have three children who lived with my wife in Turkey. Thanks to them, I have to survive. I love them and miss them very much.

I often do not sleep because of the cold and rain, but when I do, I dream about my wife and children and how we can be safe together. I dream my children are going to school. But I could die any time.

There is no shelter in the forest. My friend Muhammad has four children with us. I can not describe how he is. They are hungry and do not sleep. Or someone may have mercy on us, or we may die.

Before the war in Syria, I had worked as a schoolteacher and headmaster in a primary school. My wife and I left Syria after losing some of our relatives. The Syrian war destroyed all our ambitions.

My wife studied law, but that did not allow her to finish her studies in Syria. We got married and had three children, two girls and a boy.

When we first fled from Syria, we tried to cross the Turkish border. We lived on the border for 24 days. On October 9, 2014, we entered Turkey.

I lived in Turkey with my family for a long time, but my finances suffered when I lost my job.

I was a farm worker at the time: I had little pay and very little work in the winter because of the rain and the bad weather. So I decided to go to Libya and Libya overseas for Europe, but I could not cross it because of the troops in Libya.

Then, I heard that the way to Europe would be opened through Belarus. I hoped that when I arrived in Europe, my wife and children would be with me in the future, living a life of security and dignity.

I bought a visa and a plane ticket from Belarus from an online office for $ 800. I was told that it would cost me $ 500 to enter Poland. But when I reached the Polish border by car, my misfortune began. It was October 5th.

At the border I saw people dying of hunger, thirst and cold, but I did nothing. Now I was running away from death.

In the meantime, we usually sleep on the ground among the trees, but the weather is very cold. We can’t sleep. Sometimes, we can light a fire, and sometimes we can’t because of the rain.

We were pushed back and forth by Polish officials and Belarusian troops. Polish officials confiscated our SIM cards. Nowhere to go now.

Our feet hurt and we feel pain. We can’t breathe.

Today I also did not sleep because the temperature was very low. But yesterday, we found a bag of bread and milk. Thank God.

It is very sad when you die of cold and hunger at home in Europe. I have nothing more to say, but I am sorry for my country, which is being destroyed by [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.

Right now, I’m just thinking about my children, and how I should live. I talk to them and my wife on WhatsApp; I feel like she lost everything too.

I should have said goodbye and left Turkey. It was probably the last time I saw them.

Please, just help me to live. Please, someone save us.




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