Editor’s Note: Some last names are being withheld to protect the identity of people.
“Migrants in the woods feared everyone, which did make reporting particularly difficult,” Strek said. “Especially that as journalists, we were already banned from entering the state of emergency zone established by the Polish authorities, right beside the border with Belarus, where most of the crisis was actually taking place.”
According to Strek, people came from all over Poland to help the migrants at the border on their own.
Kasia Strek for NPR
Since September, a wave of migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries have been camped in the sprawling Białowieża Forest at the border in freezing temperatures.
They were hoping to cross into Poland. Belarus has been accused of encouraging migrants to fly to its capital Minsk, before pushing them toward the border with Poland, and even encouraging them to clash with Polish authorities. It’s a charge that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime has denied.
Here is what the photographer saw.
Kasia Strek is photojournalist based in Paris, France and Warsaw, Poland. Follow her on Instagram @kasia_strek.