Estonia, UNSC members call for 'strong international reaction' on Belarus

A UNSC session in New York.
A UNSC session in New York. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the UK, the U.S.A. and Albania condemned Belarus' actions at the migration crisis on the border with Poland calling for a "strong international reaction".

The countries issued a joint statement after a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Thursday.

"We [...] condemn the orchestrated instrumentalization of human beings whose lives and wellbeing have been put in danger for political purposes by Belarus, with the objective of destabilizing neighboring countries and the European Union's external border and diverting attention away from its own increasing human rights violation," the statement said.

"This tactic is unacceptable and calls for a strong international reaction and cooperation in order to hold Belarus accountable. It demonstrates how the Lukashenko regime has become a threat to regional stability," it continued.

The statement said Lukashenko's goal of destabilizing Europe will not succeed and offered support for Poland and Lithuania.

The members called on countries of origin to warn their citizens against traveling to Belarus and highlighted the importance of ensuring migrants can return to their homelands.

After the meeting, Russia, a UNSC member which is supporting Belarus, issued a statement saying: "Our European colleagues are trying to push the narrative that Belarus is responsible for this crisis and that Belarus is using migrants as a weapon of war."

The joint state can be read in full here.

The Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

It has 15 members, and each member has one vote. China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States ‍are permanent members.

Background: Situation on the Polish-Belarusian border

Since Monday, thousands of migrants, mostly from the middle east, have been gathering at the Belarusian-Polish border near Grodno in northwestern Belarus.

The migrants, men, women and children, have mostly traveled from Iraq to Minsk on the promise they will be able to cross into the European Union. They have paid thousands of euros to do so but are now stuck at the border as Poland will not let them cross.

The situation is an escalation of events that has seen thousands of migrants cross the EU's eastern border since the summer, first in Lithuania and then Latvia and Poland.

After sanctions were placed on Belarus for human rights abuses by the EU, Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko threatened to send "migrants and drugs" to Europe.

EU officials say the Minsk regime is responsible for facilitating and enabling irregular migration, calling it "hybrid aggression".

Estonia has sent support to Lithuania, including border guards and razor wire. It has also shown solidarity through statements and by raising the issue at the United Nations Security Council.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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