A group of migrants, including women and children, remain stranded at the Polish-Belarusian border, Polish border guards said Monday after activists accused of not letting the migrants seek asylum in Poland.
For the past four days, the group has been forced to camp in the forest near Bialowieza, at the foot of the metal border fence erected by the Polish nationalist government to prevent irregular crossings.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the border guards said the group of "about 20 to 30 people" was "outside the jurisdiction" of Poland. "Therefore, no administrative activity, including the possible acceptance of an application for international protection, if the intention of these persons is indeed to obtain protection in Poland, is possible," Zdanewicz said.
According to activists at the scene, the group on the border includes people from Syria, Iraq and Congo, and has 11 children.
The NGO Grupa Granica, which provides medical and legal assistance to immigrants at the Polish-Belarusian border, maintains that the migrants, although they have not crossed the fence, are indeed on Polish territory.
Activists said migrants were not allowed to return to Belarus, with Belarusian border guards threatening them with dogs, and said at least two members of the group had been beaten or injured by Belarusian agents.
Polish border guards said they had asked the Belarusian side to provide aid and support to the migrants in vain.
They only sent one person to document the situation, certainly with a view to using it for their own propaganda," the Polish statement said.
On Saturday, the Polish Ombudsman's office intervened, launching an "urgent request for information" on the status of these migrants.