Saturday, November 27

Belarus says camps on the Polish border have been cleared of people | Belarus


Belarus said hastily built migrant camps on its border with Poland had been cleared of people on Thursday in a sign that Minsk is eager to reduce the deadly crisis that its leader, Alexander Lukashenko, helped create.

On Thursday, that crisis claimed its thirteenth casualty after an NGO reported that a one-year-old boy had died after his family attempted the dangerous journey through Belarus to the EU.

According to the Polish Center for International Aid, the boy’s family was from Syria and had been trapped in the forest for six weeks. The cause of death was not released, although the boy’s family was said to have suffered stab wounds in an attack.

Belarusian state media, along with some international media, reported that the camp near the Polish city of Kuźnica, where people trying to cross the border were forced back with tear gas and water cannons, had been cleared of people on Thursday. in the morning. All that was left of the migrant camp, Belarusian state media wrote, were “huts, remains of tents, abandoned clothing and dying fires.”

The Polish border guard service confirmed: “The camp near the border crossing in Bruzgi was deserted. The Belarusian services sent the foreigners to the transport and logistics center located several hundred meters away ”. Belarus had already moved more than 1,000 migrants to the warehouse on Wednesday, where they were given food.

It is unclear where they will go from there.

On Thursday, a press spokesman for Lukashenko also claimed that he and Merkel had discussed creating a humanitarian corridor to Germany for 2,000 of the migrants at the border, and that Belarus had agreed to help transport the remaining 5,000 back to their homeland. country of origin, mainly. Syria or Iraq.

The spokesman said the first repatriation flight left Belarus on Thursday with 431 Iraqi immigrants on board. The remaining people “have categorically refused to leave, but we will work on that,” they added.

Migrants from Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries have reported that they spent more than £ 10,000 traveling to Belarus and then hired smugglers to help them cross the border. Many have said they have no plans to return.

“We are keeping our promises,” the spokesman said. “In the meantime, the EU has not fulfilled any of its own obligations.”

The suggestion of a secret deal between Lukashenko and Merkel on migration is politically explosive, but the Belarusian leader has reason to exaggerate the results of his talks with Merkel.

Germany has not confirmed having reached any agreement for a humanitarian corridor with Lukashenko, and the media on Thursday cited government sources as denying that an agreement had been reached. The EU has confirmed that only technical talks will be held with the Belarusian government to manage the return of migrants to their countries of origin.

Nonetheless, European politicians have expressed anger at Germany and Merkel for interacting directly with Lukashenko, who had not spoken to a single EU leader since launching a brutal crackdown on the opposition last year.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis criticized the emergence of a “separate avenue of negotiation with the dictator, the illegitimate president.” The EU has failed to recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus after allegations of widespread abuse and electoral fraud in the 2020 presidential elections.

Landsbergis also said that at least one EU government had tried to remove Belavia, the Belarusian state airline, from a list of sanctions agreed by EU foreign ministers earlier this week. Politico has reported that Germany and Italy have refrained from signing the full sanctions list due to the airline’s last-minute limits on flights with Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni nationals from Istanbul. The publication also reported that a Syrian airline could be removed from the sanctions list.

Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s main backer, accused the West of using the migration crisis “as a new source of tension in a region close to us, to put pressure on Minsk.” He also criticized Polish border guards for using water cannons and tear gas against children.


www.theguardian.com

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