Poland’s shipment for refugees in Belarus awaits its permission to go

“The humanitarian aid shipment waits at the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Bobrowniki. It comprises three HGV containing blankets, beds and tents equipped with heating equipment and furnishings, as well as personal protection equipment,” the head of Poland’s Governmental Agency for Strategic Reserves (RARS) Michał Kuczmierowski told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

“As it was expected, the shipment pulled over at the Bobrowniki border crossing. We are awaiting Belarus’ decision. A diplomatic note regarding the matter was sent yesterday. We are awaiting a reaction,” Mr Kuczmierowski told PAP.

Mr Kuczmierowski went on to say that the RARS was ready to also deliver food and medicines, should Belarus express such desire.

“This type of shipment is also ready, albeit sending medicines and food requirest Belarus to confirm what is needed precisely,” he said, adding that the entry regulations are very closely detailed and that what is to be brought into Belarus must be precisely declared.

As explained by the RARS head, the shipment in waiting at the Polish-Belarusian border had been prepared based on the experience gathered from similar operations carried out at the request of Lithuania. “There are many migrants on the Lithuanian side of the border, who made it through before it was rendered less porous. Lithuania provided them with care,” recalled Mr Kuczmierowski.

“We plan on sending a third shipment to Lithuania again in the upcoming days. The previous ones arrived in August and September,” he said.

The head of RARS told PAP that the two previous humanitarian aid shipments to Belarus, Poland did not receive any official response. When asked how long would the HGVs keep waiting at the border, he assured that Poland was prepared for a longer wait, namely, until the Belarusian decision is altered.

“Our aid is to support Belarusians in solving the migration crisis that they brought about. Acceptance or refusal of the help will reveal their true intentions,” he added.

On Saturday, President Andrzej Duda said that he had called for sending humanitarian aid to Belarus and appealed to the Belarusian authorities to accept it. He also appealed for common sense and humane treatment of people stuck at the border. “The migrants camping at the Belarusian side of the border must be helped. I appeal to Belarus to let the aid in,” he tweeted.

On Wednesday, a meeting took place at the Bureau of National Security (BBN) bringing together President Duda, PM Mateusz Morawiecki, the Border Guard Chief Commander General Tomasz Praga, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak, Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński and Deputy FM Marcin Przydacz.

The meeting revolved around the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border. Having heard the government and the services’ report on the current situation there, President Duda called for the humanitarian aid shipment to be sent.

This is not the first attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to migrants on the Belarusian side of the border. On October 5, Poland’s MFA and the RARS made a decision to provide Belarus with help in satisfying the migrants’ needs. Belarus’ charge d'affaires had received a note with a proposal of humanitarian shipment, which, at the end of the day, was not let into the Belarusian territory. The penultimate humanitarian aid shipment was dispatched to Belarus on August 23 only to become the first out of the so-far two that were not allowed entry.

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