One-year-old Syrian child dies in forest on Poland-Belarus border

A one-year-old child from Syria has died in a forest in Poland near the border with Belarus, according to Polish medical workers, becoming the youngest known victim of the crisis on the eastern edge of the European Union.

Thousands of people attempting to reach the EU are still stranded in freezing conditions, amid a standoff between the bloc and Belarus, which has been accused of deliberately creating the crisis by flying in people from the Middle East and facilitating their travel to the border.

The Polish Emergency Medical Team PCPM, an NGO, said the child was the son of a Syrian couple who it had assisted in the early hours of Thursday.

“Around 2:26 am we received a report that at least one person needed medical assistance,” PCPM said on Twitter. “When we arrived on the spot, it turned out that three people were injured. They had been in the forest for 1.5 months.”

PCPM said its staff had come across a young man with severe abdominal pain who was hungry and dehydrated, and a Syrian couple. “The man had a lacerated wound to his arm, and the woman had a stab wound to her lower leg,” the group tweeted. “Their one-year-old child died in the forest.”

The cause of the boy’s death was not yet established. 至少 13 people have died in the area in recent weeks, most due to exposure.

In the last few days, the local Muslim community of Bohoniki, a village in north-east 波兰, has held the funerals of two victims. 在星期一, residents streamed to his family via Skype the funeral of 19-year-old Syrian Ahmad al-Hasan, who was found dead in the Bug river in eastern Poland on 19 十月. According to witnesses, Ahmad, who could not swim, was pushed by a Belarusian soldier to enter the water.

The family of Ferhad, a man from Kobane in Syria who died in a car accident in October while fleeing the Polish police, said they were still waiting for his body.

“He left Syria, like many others, to reach 欧洲,” said Ferhad’s cousin Rashwan Nabo, a Syrian humanitarian worker.

Ferhad had boarded a direct flight to Minsk from Erbil, in northern Iraq. “In Raqqa, Damascus and Aleppo, word has been spreading for months that the easiest and fastest way to reach 欧洲 is a direct flight to Belarus,” Nabo said.

Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, has been accused of deliberately provoking the refugee crisis in revenge for EU sanctions on his authoritarian regime.

According to charities, in recent days, more and more people have managed to cross the barbed wire separating Poland from Belarus.

Requests for help received by charities and doctors from asylum seekers in the forest around the secure zone have increased. According to doctors, most common medical emergencies they have treated are injuries from beatings, dehydration and hypothermia.

Aid workers are urging the Polish government to create a humanitarian bridge for those trapped at the border to allow them to enter Polish territory. With temperatures dropping to below freezing in recent days, charities fear more people will die without the necessary medical assistance.

Anna Chmielewska, the coordinator of the Help Center for Foreigners, 说: “It is a matter of time when we will be getting more and more tragic news like this.”

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