Interior minister condemns inhumane treatment of Belarus border migrants

Interior minister Kristian Jaani.
Interior minister Kristian Jaani. Source: Ministry of the Interior.

The Belarusian regime is plunging thousands of migrants stuck on its western border with the European Union into an inhumane situation, likely to get worse as winter arrived, interior minister Kristian Jaani (Center) said Friday. Jaani joined interior ministers from the three European Union member states which border Belarus in making an official declaration to that effect, and appealing to humanitarian organizations to help resolve the crisis.

Jaani said: "As of today, Belarus is using people from third countries as weapons against the EU, forcing them to cross its border."

Jaani made his remarks as he joined his counterparts in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Austria in a joint statement on Friday aimed at drawing the attention of humanitarian organizations, including those in Belarus itself, to the situation of the migrants suffering in the crisis and appealing to the organizations to rely only on official information in their activities.

"It's vital to me and my colleagues in resolving this crisis that official information be made us of as much as possible so that people in both the source countries and Belarus can get objective and correct information, and not disinformation disseminated by the Lukashenko regime," Jaani stressed.

"The current crisis is brutal and inhumane, which is why we also need the support of international aid organizations to resolve the difficult situation on the union's external borders," Jaani, a former police chief, added.

The joint declaration was addressed to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders.

The address also appealed to aid agencies to liaise with Belarusian authorities in providing assistance to the migrants stranded on the border areas.

While the current crisis began in summer, winter is rapidly approaching and is likely to bring added hardships on top of those already endured for many weeks, the address noted.

Latvian, Lithuanian and Polish authorities will also continue to provide humanitarian and medical assistance where possible, BNS reports.

The situation has been artificially created by the Belarusian regime as a political cudgel against the EU and its member states, the address noted.

Most recently, large numbers of migrants, including children, and mostly of Iraqi origin, have congregated on Polish border near Grodno in northwestern Belarus after traveling to Minsk by plane on the promise they will be able to cross into the EU, often paying thousands of dollars in order to do so, only to find entry barred by Polish authorities.

The development mirrors earlier migratory pressure on Belarus' borders with Lithuania and Latvia which started in summer, thought to be retaliation by Lukasehnko for sanctions placed on Belarus in the aftermath of his August 2020 reelection and the subsequent, violent crackdown on dissenters by his security forces.

The arrival of the migrants has been roundly condemned by the leadership of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and many other EU and non-EU states as a form of hybrid warfare, one which takes advantage of vulnerable people.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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