Asylum crisis escalates.. Turkey prevents 3 Arab nationalities from traveling to Belarus and military training near Poland’s borders
Today, Turkey prevented citizens of Syria, Iraq and Yemen from flying to Belarus, following the outbreak of the crisis of the flow of thousands of migrants towards the Belarusian-Polish border, while Belarus and Russia are conducting military exercises near the Polish border, in light of political tension between Belarus and the European Union.
The Turkish Civil Aviation Authority said that Syrians, Yemenis and Iraqis will no longer be allowed to buy airline tickets from Turkey to Minsk, nor will they be allowed to board planes, in light of an escalating immigration crisis between Belarus and its neighbor Poland, which is supported by the European Union.
The EU accuses Belarus of provoking a cross-border migration crisis by encouraging asylum seekers to cross the border illegally, which Minsk denied, and said it could only help solve the crisis if the EU lifted sanctions it had previously imposed on Belarus.
Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, welcomed the Turkish move, and Schinas – who is visiting Beirut as part of a tour of the region pressing it to stop the flow of migrants to Minsk – said that flights from Turkey to Belarus should be reduced to zero from 17 after the Turkish authorities’ decision.
European Council President Charles Michel thanked Turkey for its recent decision, and the union is in talks with international airlines – including Turkish Airlines – to urge them to suspend the sale of one-way tickets to the Belarusian capital, Minsk.
The Belarusian airline “BelAvia” decided to stop transporting citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen on its planes coming from Turkey to Belarus.
The Vice-President of the European Commission added – after his meeting today with Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut – that efforts to stop the flow of migrants massed at the border between Belarus and the European Union are bearing fruit, and Poland is a member of the European Union, and therefore its eastern border with Belarus is part of the borders of the European bloc.
The European official added that he will travel Monday to Baghdad, after which he will travel later next week to Ankara, and Lebanon is one of the countries from which migrants head to Belarus to communicate with smugglers.
Penalties and reinforcements
Schinas added that the European Union is preparing to impose a fifth package with sanctions on Belarus, and the European Commission has threatened to take measures against other countries or airlines that contribute to the crisis by transporting migrants to Belarus.
Poland has deployed 15,000 soldiers along the border, erected a fence topped with barbed wire, and agreed to build a wall on the border with Belarus, and the Polish news agency reported that there are about 4,000 asylum seekers on the border between Poland and Belarus, and many of them tried last Monday to cross the border between the two countries. .
The German authorities set up checkpoints along its border with Poland, in anticipation of the influx of refugees, and Berlin deployed an additional force of about 800 border guards, after the authorities there recorded the arrival of about two thousand refugees in the past few weeks.
German police said today that more than 100 irregular migrants arrive daily in Germany from Belarus via Poland.
Today, German police said that more than 100 irregular migrants arrive in Germany daily from Belarus through Poland, adding that since the beginning of this month, about 1,488 cases of irregular entry from Belarus have been recorded along the border with its western neighbor.
Ukraine (not a member of the European Union) said it was deploying 8,500 additional soldiers and police officers to the region’s long northern border with Belarus.
The cases of asylum seekers infiltrating between Poland and Belarus have increased since last summer, and most of the migrants come from Iraq, and large numbers of them come from Syria and Afghanistan.
The Russian Information Agency reported today – quoting Belarusian border guards – that a group of 100 migrants is heading towards a temporary camp on the border with Poland.
Today, the World Health Organization expressed its “grave concern” about the health situation of thousands of stranded migrants in Belarus, and the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge, urged “all countries” to “protect the right of refugees and migrants to access medical assistance.”
According to a technical mission sent by the Health Organization to the border between Belarus and Lithuania, 60% of migrants require “one form or another” of medical care.
Belarus and Russia said today that they are conducting joint military exercises near Belarus’ western border with Poland, a region experiencing a migration crisis.
The Belarusian Ministry of Defense stated that a joint battalion of paratroopers from the two countries was conducting exercises in Gosky (west of the country) due to the “exacerbation of military activity” near the border.
It added that Russian L-76 planes and Belarusian military helicopters are participating in the exercises.
The Russian Defense Ministry said – in a statement – that it had sent paratroopers to Belarus to participate in the maneuvers as part of “checking the readiness for sudden combat,” adding that units of the paratroopers would carry out an operational landing in the Gusky region.
The Kremlin said on Friday that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko had not consulted with Russia before raising the possibility of cutting off the flow of Russian natural gas to Europe, which crosses from Belarus. Lukashenko had threatened yesterday to respond to any new sanctions imposed by the European Union on his country because of the migrant crisis, and said that the response might include preventing the passage of Russian gas and goods through his country to the European Union.
The Kremlin spokesman stressed that his country is a reliable natural gas exporter and fulfills its obligations, and Russia is one of the main exporters of gas to Europe, especially Germany.
US Vice President Kamala Harris said today that her country is very concerned about the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border, and said that the regime of Belarusian President Lukashenko is conducting a disruptive activity, and the US official added that she discussed these developments with French President Emmanuel Macron; Today, Harris is participating in an international conference on Libya, hosted by Paris.