Polish Forests Full of Fear: Life and Death on the EU-Belarus Border

The grave of Syrian migrant Ahmed Al-Hassan at Tatar cemetery outside the village of Bohoniki, near the Polish-Belarusian border, eastern Poland, 16 November 2021. 19-year-old Ahmed drowned in the Bug River as he tried to cross. EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK

The multimedia page Polish Forests Full of Fear features an interactive map with the most important findings, including the proportion of children in the groups, the number of pushbacks the migrants faced, their countries of origin, and harrowing accounts of violence, injuries and death.

The data, including information about the migrants' age, origin and whether they had experienced pushbacks or needed medical attention, was collected by volunteers from Grupa Granica during interventions at the Polish-Belarusian border, and provided exclusively to BIRN journalists, who did the systematisation, cleaning and analysis.

Given the evidence that tens of thousands attempted to cross this border during this period, this sample represents only a proportion of the total. It is, however, a large enough sample to give a good indication of who the people trying to cross the border were and the problems that they encountered.

This is also the only broad data sample that has so far been made publicly available, given the Polish state has not publicised nor, to the best of our knowledge, even compiled statistics of the people who tried to enter Poland by crossing the Belarusian border.


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