Here is a first-hand account of one of the volunteers helping carry out civil rescue operations at the border in Podlasie.
"On a rainy Saturday night, I received the information that there were 5 people from Congo lost somewhere in the forest and the girl was suspected of hypothermia. It was 1:20 am and together with other volunteers we made our way through the dense forest, and Suddenly I saw a shape between the trees. "N'ayez pas peur. Do not be afraid," we said.
There were three men on their knees, shivering. They were dressed only in T-shirts and wet jeans. One of them said, pointing to his friend, "Elle a très froid. She is cold". The girl was terrified and could barely move. We helped all of them get warm. We took care of their cold and sore feet. The woman told me that she studied biotechnology at a university in Nizhny Novgorod in Russia, but since the war began, everything became very expensive that she could no longer pay the bills. They were lost and had been wandering in the forest for 4 days.
They had to push Angèle off the wall as she was afraid to jump off. Belarusians caught them at the border, robbed them of their money, and took them to Minsk. They wanted to go to France, but the smuggler demanded 800$ per person for the trip to Warsaw.
"Can we at least take a taxi to McDonald's?" Angèle asked me. Unfortunately, you cannot. There is nothing else we can do for you. "Que Dieu vous bénisse" is repeated in unison - "God bless you." We pack the remains of their former lives into a garbage bag - dripping t-shirts, jeans, and faux leather sports shoes. It is hard for us to part with them, but our presence may cause them trouble. We say goodbye.
After returning from Podlasie, I told my friend about them. "So they weren't REAL refugees," he commented. "Did they not escape persecution?" Trust me. Nobody is going on such a risky journey unless they have to.
There have been no updates about this group so far.