Youssef Atallah, a 37-year-old Syrian, recently arrived in Poland after his third attempt at crossing the border from Belarus.
Speaking at a refugee center in Białystok, in northeastern Poland, Atallah said that upon arriving at the border, guards caught his group of four and he was beaten, leaving him with facial injuries, a broken nose and bruised ribs.
"They took us to the forbidden area. That was the first try to cross the border to Poland," he told CNN. He said Belarusian officials refused to provide medical aid and repeatedly told them to head to Poland rather than return to Minsk.
While making their way through the forest, the group got separated while trying to flee Polish guards, he said. While making the journey into Poland, Atallah said he had no food and drank water from a swamp.
"I saw stuff left by another refugee group (and) I found a cube of sugar. I just start sucking on it because I can't chew, I can't bite or anything," he said.
Atallah said that his memory of the journey was clouded by the medical issues he's faced as a result of the beatings. He understands, however, that he spent three days in the forest before he was picked up by Polish police and brought to the refugee center.
Atallah said the experience he's had with Polish guards and at the refugee center has been starkly different to his experience with Belarusian officers.
"They are very kind with us actually. They took me to the hospital and the crew at the hospital are marvelous. The doctors even gave me clothes," he said.
Despite the treacherous journey, Atallah said he'd make the trip again for his family, citing an even more perilous situation back in Syria.