Cold and tired refugees are repelled by Poland with a brusque text, the start of their bleak attempt to enter Central Europe.
Sokolka, Poland – As foreigners approach Poland’s border with Belarus, they automatically – as this reporter did – receive a simple and clear text message on their phones.
“The Polish border is sealed. BLR authorities told you lies. Go back to Minsk!” the SMS reads, referring to Belarus.
The text also includes a warning not to take any “pills” from Belarusian soldiers; there have been unverified reports that Belarusian border guards have given people tablets containing methadone in order to “survive” the dangerous crossing to the other side.
The message has been sent to the thousands of refugees and migrants who have tried to breach the frontier and enter Poland from Belarus in recent weeks, people that rights groups say are being used as tools in a months-long dispute between the West and Russia-allied Minsk.
The crisis deepened this week as hundreds more headed to the border in scenes some observers say are akin to those from the early stages of the 2015 European refugee