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‘Heartbreaking!’ Dog-bitten migrants left as ‘prisoners’ on EU’s external frontier

Anna Alboth, who is an activist for Minority Rights Group International, has told Metro about the “heartbreaking” scenes on the Belarus-Poland border as tensions between Minsk and Brussels grow. Ms Alboth said the non-governmental organisation has come into contact with around 1,500 people on the Polish side of the border.

But the aid worker also warned the overall number is likely to be much higher as she does not have full access to the area.

Ms Alboth, who is reportedly based in Poland, warned migrants – predominantly from Iraq, Syria and Yemen – sustained injuries during the “push backs” on the border.

Many migrants are even said to be returning back from Poland as they are now realising they could be deported.

According to the aid worker, the Belarus border is starting to hit sub-zero temperatures as Europe’s bitter winter looms.

Forecasts by BBC Weather indicate Bialystok, located around 35miles away from Kuznica, indicate it could be as cold as -1C on Tuesday, with highs of just 7C.

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Ms Alboth said: “People are being treated like table tennis balls being thrown from one side to the other many times.”

“Some people we are meeting in the forest are experiencing between five and 10 push backs, this is a very, very common thing.

“Last night we found two men who couldn’t move or communicate any more.

“They are in hospital and hopefully they will survive but the state of people’s health is absolutely incomparable to what was happening before.

“People are also getting hurt because they are being pushed through the fence, through the barbed wire, and are being left with scars.”

“On the Belarusian side they are being threatened with weapons and dogs.

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“I have seen many signs of dog bites on the legs of adults and on kids.”

While there have been reports migrants are “weaponised” with arms supplied by Minsk in a bid to break through at Kuznica, Ms Alboth stressed many of those on the border are non-violent women and children “dreaming of asylum”.

“You have to remember that a week ago when the migrants started to gather on the Belaruisan side, they were sure that Poland would open the border and that they would be able to peacefully apply for asylum,” she said.

“In almost every situation over the past two months when people have tried to apply for asylum on the Polish side we were calling border guards, which is the procedure when people try to apply for asylum.

“They were put on the army trucks and brought back to Belarus.

“People now know they will not be taken to a refugee camp so they are just hiding in the forest, trying to survive.”

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Ms Alboth, who according to Metro has worked on EU borders for six years, added how migrants were struggling to obtain food.

“There is a high level of hunger and health problems,” she said.

“We grassroots activists cannot be the ones solving this problem, there should be big international humanitarian organisations on the spot, giving food, water and structural help.”

Ms Alboth claimed she had for the first time encountered people who have not fed themselves for five-days.

The EU, NATO and US have accused Alexander Lukashenko of directing migrants to the continental bloc’s external frontier after sanctions were imposed back in June.

Minsk rejects the accusation and instead claims Poland has breached international law by ushering migrants back into Belarus.