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10 stories of refugees who lost their lives at the Polish-Belarusian border - PART 3

Updated: Sep 15, 2022

Story 7 - Mostafa al-Raimi (35, #Yemen).

Mostafa Al-Raimi comes from a wealthy family. His father was a judge, and his brother works in the Yemeni consulate in #SaudiArabia. His family describes him as a quiet, friendly man who laughed a lot and loved #football. Before the #Yemen#CivilWar, Mostafa had studied accounting in Yemen's capital, #Sana'a. He later found a job at a Saudi bank in Jeddah. But his brother Salah al-Din al-Raimi said that the position had been insecure and that #Saudi nationals had replaced a growing number of foreign employees.

Mostafa tried three times to enter the West the usual way. However, he was unsuccessful in procuring visas to the #UnitedStates, #France, and the #Netherlands before choosing the irregular route. Finally, he travelled through to #Cairo in the autumn. There, the #smuggler promised to take him to #Poland via #Minsk. Then he was to continue his journey to #Germany or the Netherlands. The final part of the trip was to cost 1800 Euros.

Mostafa traveled to #Europe alone. He promised his wife and two children to take them with him as soon as he got to the Netherlands. Together with two other Yemenis and four Syrians, he tried to cross the border into Poland. However, the men separated as they fled Polish soldiers. After a few hours, the group managed to find each other, but after, Mostafa was still missing. His body was found by the Polish Border Guard three days later.

When Salah al-Din al-Raimi, Mostafa's brother, found out about his brother's death, he traveled to Poland. He had heard that there had been #gunfire at the border the night his brother died. In the morgue, he examined Mostafa's body closely for gunshot wounds. He found nothing. The doctors say it was a heart attack. Salah al-Din al-Raimi decided to bury his brother in Poland. He was the only relative present at the #funeral.

Story 8 - Kurdo Khalid (35, #Iraq)

Kurdo Khalid just wanted to rest. He returned to #Minsk from the Polish-Belarusian border at the end of October, exhausted and depleted. For several days Kurdo tried to find a way into the #EU with his younger brother. However, his efforts were in vain. Kurdo was frustrated as only a few years ago; he had managed to get as far as the #UK, where he worked for a while.

He put down his backpack and sleeping bag in a shabby hostel in the center of #Minsk. He then went to the nearby shopping mall (#Galeria), a prominent meeting place for #refugees. He wanted something to eat and drink and sat down on the fifth floor at one of the bright tables between snack stands and cafés. Suddenly, he slumped over, fell off the chair, and lay motionless on the floor, according to one Iraqi who witnessed it. Paramedics tried in vain to revive Kurdo. It was later revealed that the he had died of a stroke.

Story 9 - Wafaa Kamal (38, #Iraq)

Wafaa loved #beauty. She had studied applied arts in #Baghdad, spending her free time embroidering and going out with her six siblings. The family's everyday life was perfect. But Haidar Kamal, Wafaa's husband, says that #Shiite#militias threatened them after working for international organisations. They did not feel safe and booked a trip from Baghdad to #Minsk for $7,200. Close to #Grodno, they got into Poland through a barbed-wire fence. A smuggler was supposed to pick them up there and take them to #Germany. He never arrived.

Wafaa fell seriously ill after days in the forest. Soon, Polish security forces turned up. Instead of taking her to the hospital, they dragged the family back to the border fence. They spent another night on the Belarusian side. Then, on Sept. 19, at 6 a.m., Wafaa's heart stopped.

Haidar found the BL soldiers after a few hours. They blackmailed him and sent him help only after he blamed the Poles for his wife's death. Shortly after, BL investigators recorded two videos and posted them online. Haidar Kamal claims that Polish soldiers beat his wife to death in the videos. For a few seconds, you see the motionless body of his wife, without shoes. The Belarusian security forces wrote that the Polish soldiers had removed the shoes.

After the video shoot, Wafaa was taken to the hospital. Her death certificate says she died of #hypothermia. The children were sent to a shelter and Haidar Kamal to jail for eight days. He got back only half of $8,400 he had with him at the beginning of his imprisonment. They charged him $4,200 for "accommodation," #COVID19 testing, and flights back to Baghdad. Finally, Haider had to pay $5,138 for the return transport of his deceased wife.

Wafaa had hoped that her 11-year-old son will one day be a #doctor in Europe and her eight-year-old daughter an #architect.

Story 10 - Avin Irfan Zahir (38, Iraq).

Avin Irfan Zahir and her husband Baravan Husni Murad have five children. The youngest is eight; the oldest is 16. When they left #Iraq for #Belarus, the couple had no idea that Avin was still pregnant. On Friday, December 3, 2021, Avin, passed away in a Polish hospital. The cause of death, severe hypothermia, dehydration, a temperature of -7C, and all while twenty-four weeks #pregnant.

For many days, the family wandered through the Polish-Belarusian border. Avin felt worse each day. At one point, she was barely able to walk. When Polish activists found her family in the woods, Avin was lying on the ground, groaning: she hadn't eaten in two days; she was spitting bile. The baby in her belly was already dead then.

For three weeks, doctors in the Polish hospital fought for her life but were unsuccessful. Finally, Baravan named his unborn child Halikari before burying him in an Islamic #cemetery in the area. Marked by a small stone, the grave joins other recent graves of fallen refugees to this horrific humanitarian crisis in #EasternEurope.

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