Poles send soup to hungry migrants at Belarusian border

WARSAW, Nov. 18 (Reuters) – For Beata Zalewska-Stefaniak, it didn’t feel good to be sitting comfortably at home in Warsaw as migrants went hungry in frozen forests some 200 km (140 miles) away. east of the Polish border with Belarus.

So she decided to launch “Soups for the border”, a campaign to prepare thousands of pots of homemade soup, in what she jokingly calls “forest restoration” for migrants.

“This is a popular initiative of people like me who were aware that they were sitting in their warm homes and that there was nothing they could do to help,” Zalewska-Stefaniak, 57, told Reuters.

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Thousands of migrants, mostly Iraqis, have been trying for weeks to cross the border into the European Union but have been turned back by Polish security forces. About ten migrants are believed to have died.

Poland and the EU accuse Belarus of encouraging migrants to cross in revenge for EU sanctions imposed on Minsk for human rights violations. Minsk denies the accusation. Read more

The first 600 pots of soup were prepared and shipped at the end of October from Warsaw to the Podlasie region near the border.

Volunteers have now distributed around 4,000 liters of soup to migrants and people from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) trying to help them.


Soups, made with beets, lentils, zucchini and other ingredients, are made by families, scouts and others.

The Facebook group that helps organize the initiative has grown to over 1,800 people, increasing the diversity of food available.

In the beginning, all the soups were vegetarian, with the aim of making them easy to digest but still filling. Now the volunteers also prepare fresh bread, meat dishes and special lunches for the little children.

They try to meet the dietary requirements of the mostly Muslim migrants, for example by excluding pork from the menu, said Zalewska-Stefaniak, who works as an English translator and mindfulness coach.

She said she wanted to show that ordinary Poles are eager to help, despite great cultural differences with migrants.

“It is beyond politics, beyond all divisions. The hungry must be fed, (this is) a fundamental message not only of Christianity, but of humanity,” Zalewska-Stefaniak said. .

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Reporting by Anita Kobylinska, Anna Koper and Kuba Stezycki, written by Anita Kobylinska, editing by Joanna Plucinska and Gareth Jones

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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