At the time of writing, a human tragedy is being played out on the border between Poland and Belarus. Refugees from war torn countries are trapped between opposing border guards, sometimes for weeks. People are dying of hypothermia or disease. Those who get through are often illegally returned across the border. It is Poland’s shame, this abdication of Christian values by this Catholic country.
Emblematic of aid for refugees is the thermal blanket, a thin, lightweight layer of essential insulation, gold on one side, silver on the other. A thermal blanket can also be an evocative flag. Tape one edge to a pole or stick and there it is. A flag to demonstrate empathy or solidarity with struggling refugees everywhere, but particularly right now on the Polish-Belarusian border – for those trapped in marshland or in forests in temperatures that are dropping fast.
On Sunday 17th October 2021, a demonstration of support for the trapped refugees took place in Warsaw. Among the 3000 people attending, the flags of empathy flew, many with the outline of a refugee child, taken from a photograph. Sadly, it seems that this flags must be used again.