‘My grandmother hid Jewish children’: Poland’s underground refugee network

As thousands attempt to cross the Belarus-Poland border seeking asylum in Europe, local activists are trying to help

In the attic of a cottage in the woods near the Polish village of Narewka, a young Iraqi Kurd crouches, trembling with cold and fear. Through the skylight, the blue lights of police vans flash on the walls of his hiding place. Outside, dozens of border guards are searching for people like him in the snowstorm. Downstairs, the owner of the house sits in silence with his terrified wife and children.

The young Kurd is one of thousands of asylum seekers who entered Poland across the border with Belarus, where countless others have become trapped on their way to Europe. The Polish family have offered him shelter. But if the Polish police find him, he risks being sent back across the frontier into the sub-zero forests of Belarus, while his protectors risk being charged for aiding illegal immigration.

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