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‘There are bodies in the forest’: Missing migrants worry activists on Lithuania-Belarus border read full article at worldnews365.me










The Lithuanian-Belarussian border is affected by the our bodies of migrants, who’ve died attempting to enter the EU, human rights teams have alleged.

Sienos Grupe, a Lithuanian humanitarian organisation, has collected an inventory of round 30 folks, whose households misplaced contact with them on Europe’s jap frontier.

The group is working arduous to assist family members discover their lacking family, piecing collectively info and grimly scouring refugee camps, hospitals and morgues.

A lot of what’s taking place slips below the radar, they are saying, as migrants and their households are sometimes too scared to return ahead, fearing a run-in with the regulation — and the transience of individuals on the transfer makes it doubly troublesome for them to hunt assist. 

‘No entry zone’

Complicating their effort is the whole blackout by Lithuanian authorities within the border zone, which prevents humanitarian teams and journalists from monitoring the realm. 

“The problem is we simply don’t know”, Vakarė, a volunteer at Sienos Grupe who requested that we not use their full identify, informed Euronews. “There’s this entire darkened invisible line that you’re not supposed to go past”.

“No-one knows what’s happening inside”.

Individuals crossing the border have additionally accused Polish border forces of dragging lifeless our bodies to the Belarussian facet, who merely bury the stays — a declare strongly refuted by Poland.

“Migrants are meaningless, faceless people to most, they’re not even [considered as] human,” mentioned Vakarė.

“Nobody’s very passionate about making sure their bodies aren’t left to rot in the forest”.

Generally known as Europe’s forgotten migration crisis, Lithuania, Poland and Belarus have pushed migrants forwards and backwards throughout one another’s frontiers since 2020, in a scenario likened to ping-pong.

Vilnius and Brussels accuse Minsk of weaponising migration -– inundating the EU’s border with migrants as a type of hybrid warfare – whereas Lithuanian border guards have been repeatedly accused of violently pushing migrants again into Belarus.

Within the meantime, folks endure.

The border space is a dank, darkish forest, crammed with swamps, that’s repeatedly buffeted by powerful climate situations, and subzero temperatures in winter.

In the meantime, migrants — largely coming from the Center East, Africa or Asia — usually do not understand how brutal winter situations will be within the area, arriving with out correct clothes or provides.

Belarus has even been accused of pushing some migrants throughout the Lithuania border barefoot. 

“They don’t understand what harsh winters we have here,”  defined Vakarė. 

“Everything is cold, slippery and dangerous. If you get injured, even if it’s just a small one, it can mean you are completely unable to cope”.

“Individuals can get in hassle very quick.”

At least three migrants have lost their legs to frostbite in recent months, with many more suffering debilitating injuries to their hands and feet that will be with them forever.

In January, Sienos Groupe identified the body of one migrant, who was found dead in a river by a nature watcher in August, after receiving desperate messages from his wife in Sri Lanka.

It was what the NGO said they “feared would come true”: the first confirmed case of a migrant dying in Lithuanian territory.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Lithuania’s Interior Ministry told Euronews authorities have “no information relating to lifeless migrants” at the border with Belarus.

They said the body found in the Neris river was of a Sri Lankan national, but did not confirm whether they were an “irregular migrant”.

An investigation is ongoing.

‘Agonising’

For those who have lost loved ones, the uncertainty is agonising.

“As a family, my brother’s disappearance has left us feeling destroyed, and completely shattered,” said one relative of a missing person, who wished to stay anonymous for privacy reasons. “We do not know what to do to find him”.

“His wife and two little children in Syria are desperate for some news about him.”

Another woman was called from her husband’s phone by the Lithuanian Border Guard in June, who ominously said they’d found his suitcase and valuables strewn in the forest.

During the border crossing, the man reportedly told his companions to leave him behind and that he wanted to call the border guards, as a pain in his foot made walking unbearable.

His whereabouts remain unknown.

“Every single day I get a message about a new missing person,” said Vakarė. “We don’t have answers for these people. We don’t have bodies. We don’t have their stories.”

In January, Lithuania’s government approved controversial legislation to formalise pushbacks as an official policy.

It claims the exceptional situation on the border with Belarus justifies the law, though critics have pointed out it violates international law by denying people the right to asylum.

“Every single death is a fault of their policy,” Vakarė said. “The state pretends the bodies aren’t there, that they are humane and doing everything they can, but it’s still a spot of dirt on their reputation”.

“The bodies are very, very visible proof of the failure of the entire strategy.”

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