Poland rescues four Iraqi, Syrian migrants from freezing swamp

Polish service members deliver medical support and transport a migrant on the Polish-Belarusian border, Poland, in this image released by the Polish Territorial Defence Forces December 15, 2021. (Reuters photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Polish authorities rescued four Iraqi and Syrian migrants from a swamp in Poland near the border with Belarus on Tuesday, security services said on Wednesday.

Polish Border Guard Spokeswoman Anna Michalska said the migrants were in a place where it was hard to get to them because it was a swampy area, according to Reuters.

“The Fire Brigade came with their special equipment and … we pulled the migrants onto dry land,” Michalska was quoted as saying.

In addition to the Fire Brigade, the Territorial Army were also involved in the rescue, according to Reuters.

The group of three men and one woman had been located by military reconnaissance drones, Reuters reported.

“Due to the low temperatures … the rescue operation was a fight for their health and life,” the Territorial Army said in a statement, adding that the migrants were dried and wrapped in thermal blankets before being taken to hospital.

Refugee charity Ocalenie Foundation said on Tuesday they had been contacted by the migrants, who said they were in trouble, and had passed this information on to the security services.

Poland has faced criticism from human rights advocates, who say it is denying migrants their right to claim asylum by pushing them back into Belarusian territory, subjecting them to potentially fatal dangers as the temperature drops.

Poland rejects this criticism, saying the migrants are Belarus’s responsibility and that its offers of humanitarian aid have been rejected.

The European Union accuses Belarus of engineering a migrant crisis on its eastern border to hit back at sanctions, but Minsk denies this.

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