The Guardian view on the EU and Belarus: vacating the moral high ground | Editorial

Europe must provide proper humanitarian aid to the migrants deceived and manipulated by Alexander Lukashenko

In the woods that line Poland’s border with Belarus, the body of a young Syrian man was found at the weekend. This was the ninth recorded death in the area since Alexander Lukashenko began to cynically exploit the desperation of migrants in his ongoing confrontation with the European Union.

There will surely be more. Close by, trapped in a narrow strip of no man’s land between opposing lines of Polish and Belarusian soldiers, thousands more men, women and children are enduring plunging sub-zero temperatures with no shelter. Mostly from Syria and northern Iraq, they are famished, frightened and inadequately dressed. Driven to the barbed wire border fences by Mr Lukashenko’s troops, they risk a beating if they try to turn back. Those who find a way to make a run for it into Poland are ruthlessly pursued by border guards and soldiers in what is in effect a militarised zone. When caught they are returned to the Belarusian side of the freezing forest. Humanitarian workers are unable to administer aid, having been excluded from emergency zones set up on the Polish side of the border. Journalists are forbidden from reporting there.

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