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Poland and Europe Facing a Migration Crisis: Action Needed in the Countries Where the Migrants Come From

Image Credit: Polish MoD
Image Credit: Polish MoD

The Border Guard’s activities on the Polish-Belarusian border are the last resort in the hybrid warfare against Lukashenko’s regime. Unfortunately, no sufficient actions have been undertaken in countries where the migrants come from. The representatives of those countries are not really interested in the fate of their citizens, near the border.

The activities undertaken in the countries of origin, aimed at slowing down the influx of migrants, are not controversial. They support the Polish, European Union's and migrants' interest - as the latter would not expose themselves, and their children to potential dangers.

The migrants coming to Belarus do not have to leave their countries. The majority of them do not face a prospect of war, persecution, or famine. Those who really are in dire straits, and who are facing undernourishment, have no money to reach Europe. Using them as an argument (Yemeni or African, famished children) to accept migrants sent by the Belarusian services to the Polish borders is nowhere near "being good at heart". This is just cynic.

Recently, I was asked for help by an acquaintance of mine, coming from the Kurdistan region in Iraq. His brother went to Belarus, willing to go to the UK, transiting via Poland. He had no need to beg for food in Kurdistan, he was not suffering from any repressions, as a supporter of the governing Barzani family, and he came from the area that was never touched by ISIS, or by the Iraqi civil war. Never did he intend to be a refugee in Poland, as this is by no means an attractive prospect for a Kurd. Notably, even though a lot of poor people live in Kurdistan, famine is not a problem. Many rich people live there too. Iraq is full of crude oil. Poland is not.

Erbil is full of shopping malls, restaurants, cafes, one may even find ski resorts in the mountains. My acquaintance was surprised when I told him that his brother should go home, as trying to cross the Polish border he is endangering himself, being a part of an attack on Poland. He was stunned when I told him that supporting illegal border crossing is a severe criminal offence that could entail 8 years in prison. Another of the Kurdish citizens I know, a long-time resident of Poland, who helped me as an interpreter when speaking to the illegal migrants arrested in Poland, told me that those people create unbelievable stories tied to their migration through Poland. Most of them consider Poland to be a poor country that cannot afford to have security services of its own. Some of them said that if they are stopped after crossing the border, Poland needs to release them after 15 hours, and let them go. Somebody told them that this is how the law works in Poland.

The problem is simple - the Internet is full of fake news like the pieces above. There are many discussion forums where border-crossing advice is given, and many "travel agencies" publish their offers of trips like that, and so on. Meanwhile, the activities undertaken by the other side here seems weak. When I tried to warn my acquaintance and deter him from illegally crossing the Polish border, I had to search long, to find anything. The Polish MFA did publicize a warning as such (but only in Arabic, and in European languages). In the meantime, many of Kurdistan's citizens speak no Arabic at all - it is not a lingua franca in the Islamic world. Even if somebody has knowledge of the Koran in Arabic, the Arabic language in Koran differs from the spoken language - it means that an Afghan citizen may not understand a message conveyed in this language. Announcements as such should be made in at least the following languages: Kurmanji, Sorani, Pashto, Urdu, and Dari. Poland shall also prepare a propaganda movie deterring the migrants, and it should be televised locally in countries where the migrants come from, daily. Iraq and Turkey in particular. Discussion forums and Internet disinformation shall be monitored. Actions should be taken to block forums as such, or forums as such should be used to warn the migrants. Data on the administrators and trip organizers shall also be collected. Unfortunately, no actions as such are being taken.

A month has passed since the visit of the Turkish Minister of Foreign affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu, and his conversation with Zbigniew Rau, on cooperation tied to a demographic attack against Poland. Turkey took no steps at all. When ISIS was attacking Europe between 2014 and 2017, Turkey was a so-called "ally", as it was hosting IS recruitment bureaus within its territories. Turkey acts in the same way now, "countering" the demographic attack. Ankara is knowledgeable within that scope, as Lukashenko uses Turkey's demographic attacks against Europe (2015) as a role model. The stream of migrants from Iraq flows freely through Turkey, with African, Syrian and Afghan migrants involved (the latter have left their homeland a long time ago). Turkish Airlines are among the leading carriers bringing Migrants to Belarus. If we come to a conclusion that Poland has fallen victim to a demographic attack inspired by Belarus (which is obvious) and we are engaged in hybrid warfare, we need to consider the migrants to be a weapon, and anybody who helps in the delivery of this weapon, or who allows for delivery of these weapons to Belarus, should be considered an enemy. This is why Turkish Airlines and any other airline carrying migrants to Belarus should be given a clear ultimatum - you either suspend your routes to Belarus, or you cannot fly to Europe, while airline management is blacklisted and denied access to the Schengen area. If lives are lost at war, then why actions like that are considered to be too radical? Iraq suspended the air traffic from/to Belarus. This shall be a norm if the given country does not want to be portrayed as an enemy, to Poland and to the EU - as Poland is the external border of the EU, and the migrants want to move inside the EU.

Not only Lukashenko is responsible for the deaths of the migrants, as the responsibility shall also be assigned to everybody involved in the transfer of those migrants to Europe. The well-known Belorusian travel services, responsible for trips like that, shall be denied access to the Schengen area. Similar actions should be taken against persons whose identity could be determined, based on web monitoring, mentioned above. These persons are also responsible for the deaths of their fellow citizens, as they are telling lies to them on the easiness of going from Belarus, through Poland, to Germany. They shall be treated as criminals. No wonder then, no information emerges on activities undertaken by law enforcement in Turkey in Iraq, or in Kurdistan, against persons as such. No information on pressure imposed by Poland or the EU, on the law enforcement agencies in the Middle East, is available either.

A few days ago, the Polish Consul in Erbil (Dominik Musiał) met the head of the Foreign Affairs Department of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, Safin Dizayi. Better late than never. It is a pity that only a tweet posted by Safin Dizayi seems to have resulted from that meeting, claiming that the conversation with Musiał concerned the tragic fate the refugees face, on the Polish-Belarusian border. One should ask the Kurdish representative, whether his government is carrying out any mass persecution, as he states that refugees come from that area to Poland. No war is happening there, excluding the fact that another ally of ours (and ally of the Kurdistan Region authorities) is carrying out bombing raids in the mountains of Kurdistan. Unless this refers to price competition between Family Mall and Royal Mall in Irbil. More relevant are the actions that the Kurdish authorities are willing to take, to chase the persons involved in the "Belarusian Tourism". And whether they take any actions that would warn their citizens from taking trips like that.

The problem is broader than Iraqi Kurdistan alone. The governments of countries who do not impose any law enforcement measures on the organizers of trafficking of migrants to Belarus, allowing the Belarusian travel companies to work locally, and whose airports are the gate to Belarus, shall be treated as Lukashenko's allies in hybrid warfare against the EU, and against Poland, with all of the associated consequences.

The images showing freezing children and casualties, people lost in the forests, pushbacks, and so on, are used in a psychological attack against Poland. It is also said that persons sent back to Belarus cannot return to the airport in Minsk, to go back home, as they are being stopped by those serving Lukashenko's regime. Has any embassy associated with the migrants been interested in their fate? Have any actions been made to reach those migrants, by the diplomats? These are just rhetorical questions, with a negative answer. Facing the actions undertaken to produce bad PR for Poland, treating the refugees in a non-humanitarian manner, we shall request intervention as such to take place in Belarus. But no effective actions as such have been taken, it seems. Meanwhile, Rudaw TV is publishing reports on cruelty exerted by Poland, against Kurdistan's refugees. What Rudaw did to deter those persons from leaving? The channel broadcast one interview with Minister Marcin Przydacz. The representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Poland, Zijad Rauf, is only interested in conferences and banquets. How many times did he visit the border? Has he undertaken any actions with his Moscow counterpart, to repatriate the migrants from the Polish Belarusian border? This, also, is a rhetorical question.

The local activities remain important and urgent. Lukashenko is not willing to resign. Some information also emerged suggesting that he is planning to "import" Syrian citizens from Lebanon, and directly from Syria. It is also possible that a humanitarian disaster would happen in Afghanistan, pushing several million Afghan citizens out - and they would want to reach Europe as well.

Witold Repetowicz