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Story of Ferhad & Rona

Belarus (Iraq)

As the unrelenting frigidity of winter hangs over the forests of no-man's land between Belarus and Poland, thousands of refugees are left in limbo on the eastern frontier of the EU and are in danger of succumbing to the elements.

A couple from a city in the effectively autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, reveal their feelings of heartache and helplessness on the front lines of this humanitarian disaster.

Ferhad*, who is a lawyer, along with his wife Rona* and their two infant children, were forced to flee Iraq fearing for their safety when Ferhad was threatened by defendants at his home after working on a court case. “Our lives were in danger”, they recalled. “We went to Erbil for a while but [the defendants] found us and wouldn't leave us alone”.

In a bid to seek asylum, the couple applied for Belarusian visas and subsequently flew to Minsk, where they stayed for several days before travelling to the Polish border.

The family suffered through “very bad” experiences after attempting to cross the border ten times. The Belarusian guards hurt them badly and Ferhad's legs are still “very painful” as a result of his maltreatment. “Each time the Polish Police arrested us and brought us back to the Belarusian border” Rona recounted. She told of how “the police took [their] phones and broke them”, which left the family without means of communication.

Ferhad and Rona were fearful they could perish in the forest and remain “really scared” about their family's safety. Despite the relentlessly harsh conditions they endure, the couple remain positive and “dream of a bright future”, especially for their two children, hoping to “reach a peaceful country” they can serve without fear and anxiety. Unfortunately, they were deported to Iraq from Minsk.

Refugees such as Ferhad and Rona are not aggressors, they are hostages to Alexander Lukashenko's cruel regime, whereby he has lured displaced migrants and asylum seekers with the false promise of a safe gateway to the EU. They are effectively used as pawns in his political game, which attempts to destabilise the EU in retaliation for sanctions on his authoritarian government.

*name changed

Story of Ferhad & Rona
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