At least thirteen people trapped on the Belarus-Poland border have died, the most recent a one-year-old child. Given the magnitude of the barbarism inflicted on these people, it could easily have been many more.
Belarus’ noxious regime, which funnelled refugees to the border in order to exert pressure on the European Union over economic sanctions, is undoubtedly in large part responsible for this crisis. But so, equally, are the EU governments (and the UK’s, which has backed them up, including with troops!)
This particular confrontation may fizzle out, as Belarus sends many of the migrants back to the Middle East. But it is only one cliff-face of Europe’s wider “migrant crisis”, actually a crisis caused by the adoption of authoritarian, anti-migrant nationalism by supposed liberal EU governments (to say nothing of the likes of Poland and Hungary, and the UK’s even more strident anti-refugee regime since Brexit).
Those who have organised on the frontline to aid people trapped on the border — particular Poles organising in a deeply hostile political environment — are heroines and heroes.
We must challenge the whole framework of Fortress Europe, and of Fortress Britain.
The Nationality and Borders Bill is likely to come back to Parliament for its “third reading” (a vote for and against, without amending) soon, maybe this week (starting 22 November 2021). Then it goes to the Lords. Time is short to mobilise against it.
The Bill denies refugee protection to people who arrive in the UK other than by a “safe and legal route”, i.e. to most refugees in desperate circumstances. Even those who can make an asylum claim will be put into “reception centres” (detention) while the claim is processed.
If their claim succeeds, they get temporary permission to stay for up to 2½ years, then have to apply for another 2½ years. An amendment to the Bill allows the government to deprive people of British citizenship without even telling them.