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This photographer captured how activists helped migrants at the Poland-Belarus border

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Blend, a Kurd from Iraq, considers himself lucky. He has only spent 14 days in a camp on the Belarusian side of the border and five days in the woods after crossing to the Polish side. When his kidney problems started to become unbearable because of lack
Kasia Strek for NPR

Blend, a Kurd from Iraq, considers himself lucky. He has only spent 14 days in a camp on the Belarusian side of the border and five days in the woods after crossing to the Polish side. When his kidney problems started to become unbearable because of lack of food and water for the last days, and he couldn't walk longer, volunteers from Polish aid organizations arrived to help.

Editor's Note: Some last names are being withheld to protect the identity of people.

As the migrant crisis evolved in November near the border of Poland and Belarus, photographer Kasia Strek spent several days documenting what she saw.

"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.

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.

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Here is what the photographer saw.

Kasia Strek is photojournalist based in Paris, France and Warsaw, Poland. Follow her on Instagram @kasia_strek.

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