On Thursday, November 18, Belarus evacuated the main migrant camps on its border with Poland, which could constitute a major step towards a solution to this crisis also involving Russia and the whole of the European Union.
According to the Belarusian news agency Belta, migrants who were sheltering in these makeshift camps set up in the forest were taken to a shed a little further from the border.
A spokesperson for Polish customs officials confirmed that these camps had been evacuated. “These camps are now empty, the migrants were most likely taken to the logistics and transport center which is not far from the Bruzgi border post,” said the spokesperson.
“There were no other camps of this type (…) but there were groups which appeared in other places to try to cross the border. We will see what happens in the next ones. hours (…) There are still people around but it is clearly emptying. “
The European Union accuses Belarus of having transported thousands of migrants from the Middle East to create a crisis situation on the border of Poland but also of Lithuania, in retaliation for the sanctions imposed after the repression of the demonstrations of 2020 against the re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko. Minsk denies any instrumentalisation.
Discussions between Merkel and Lukashenko
About ten of these people seem to have died in the freezing cold of Belarusian forests near the border. In recent weeks, hundreds of migrants have attempted to cross into Poland every night, confronting Polish forces.
The evacuation of these camps comes after intense diplomatic activity which notably saw German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet twice, Monday and Wednesday, with Alexander Lukashenko, who had not had any contact with any Western leader since his departure. 2020 re-election.
Belarus reported Thursday that its president had submitted to Angela Merkel a plan to end the crisis, which would provide for the repatriation of 5,000 migrants by Minsk and the support of 2,000 others by the European Union.
Berlin has denied any agreement. A German government source stressed that the current crisis was “a European problem for which Germany is not acting alone”.
“We call on the regime to immediately cease its aggressive campaign”
The European executive did not immediately respond to the Minsk proposal, but had previously indicated that it did not intend to negotiate with Alexander Lukashenko.
The foreign ministers of the member countries of the G7 launched an appeal Thursday to Belarus to put an end to “inhumane acts” which “put the lives of people in danger”.
“We call on the regime to immediately cease its aggressive and exploitative campaign to avoid further death and suffering,” they said in a statement.
First repatriation flights to Iraq
Nearly 430 Iraqis were at Minsk airport on Thursday to return to their country on board the first repatriation flights of this type since August.
The Iraqi foreign ministry said a stopover was planned in Erbil, in the Kurdish north of the country, before arriving in Baghdad.
Iraqis, mostly Kurds, represent a significant proportion of migrants stranded at the border and in Belarusian forests.
“I wouldn’t go back (to Iraq) if it wasn’t for my wife,” a 30-year-old Iraqi Kurd who tried to cross the border at least eight times told Reuters. “She doesn’t want to go back to the border with me, because she’s seen too many horrors there.”
Brussels hopes that the pressure on airlines to stop bringing migrants to Minsk from the Middle East will bear fruit. Several companies have already agreed to suspend their flights to the Belarusian capital.