(Belga) More than 100 migrants left Belarus by plane on Monday after failing to reach Europe via neighboring Poland, Minsk said on Tuesday, adding that additional departures were planned.
On Monday, “118 people left Minsk airport and (these departures) continue,” said senior Belarusian interior ministry official in charge of migration, Alexei Begun, as quoted by state-run Belta news agency. . On Tuesday, other migrants were waiting in the boarding area at Minsk airport to return to their country, added Begun, without giving figures or specifying the nationalities of these people. He said, however, that the embassies of several countries, such as Syria and Iraq, were organizing charter flights to repatriate “their nationals who are in a difficult situation” to Belarus. Minsk announced last week that a first group of migrants, more than 400 Iraqis, had left the country by plane. The regime of Alexander Lukashenko, which has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994, is accused by Brussels of having attracted several thousand migrants to its country since the summer before transporting them to the eastern borders of the Union European Union, in order to avenge Western sanctions. In recent weeks, Poland has thus faced a large influx of people on its border with Belarus, mainly from countries in the Middle East. Warsaw has repeatedly denounced a “hybrid war” in Minsk. Although Belarus had promised them an easy passage to Europe, the candidates for exile found themselves stranded at the border in difficult conditions, many of them camping in a forest in freezing temperatures. According to Polish media, at least 11 migrants have died in the border area since the summer. The first returns of Iraqi migrants to their country last week came after several telephone conversations between Belarusian and European officials. Lukashenko has met twice with Chancellor Angela Merkel, a victory for the Belarusian leader whose controversial re-election last year was not recognized by Western countries. (Belga)