A 14-year-old Kurdish boy is the latest casualty in the ongoing crisis in the border region between Belarus and Poland, where thousands of migrants and refugees are stuck in brutal conditions. The boy was reported to have frozen to death overnight on Wednesday.
"He died of the cold," said an Iraqi who was in contact with Polish investigative journalism organization oko.press. Another migrant confirmed that "the child is dead-yes."
According to the InfoMigrants' team reporting from the Polish side of the border, the child got hypothermia in the camp on the Belarusian side, a camp with 1,800 people in it. He was taken to hospital by officials and died there.
Belarus denies claims
Belarusian officials denied the report amid heightened tensions with the West.
A statement from the Belarusian Border Commission said: "A border service doctor helped a child who showed signs of hypothermia."
The Belarusian officials have claimed they are treating the migrants in this camp well, providing care and water. But stories are emerging instead of widespread maltreatment, abuse and indeed violence. They also have a serious lack of water and are fighting to get more.
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have called for an "urgent resolution" of the crisis to "prevent further loss of life," following at least ten migrant deaths.
IOM and UNHCR issued a statement on Tuesday, November 9, calling for "immediate and unhindered access to the group [of migrants stuck in the Polish-Belarusian border region] to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided, those in need of international or other forms of protection are identified and those who wish to apply for asylum can do so where they are."