Turkey wants to prevent Minsk from importing migrants

Turkish authorities have banned Belarusian airline Belavia from taking on board nationals from Syria, Iraq and Yemen, while Minsk is accused of fuelling a migration crisis by bringing in refugees before sending them to the Polish border.

Belarusian airline Belavia said on Friday that Turkish authorities had banned nationals of Syria, Iraq and Yemen from boarding its flights to Belarus, a country accused of funneling migrants to Europe. «In accordance with a decision by the competent authorities in Turkey, nationals of Iraq, Syria and Yemen will no longer be allowed on flights between Turkey and Belarus» from Friday, Belavia said in a statement.

This announcement comes at a time when several thousand migrants, mainly from the Middle East, are stuck in difficult conditions at the border between Belarus and Poland, which prevents them from crossing. This is the case of more than 2,000 people, including Kurds, who have been stuck for several days in a makeshift camp on the Belarusian side of the border. According to the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, ten migrants have died in the border area in recent weeks.

Trafficking in human beings

The European Union accuses Minsk of organising these migratory movements, by issuing visas and chartering flights, in revenge for Western sanctions imposed on the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko last year after the brutal repression of opponents.

Brussels, which is accusing «human trafficking», is trying to stem the flow of exiles to Belarus by contacting countries, especially in the Middle East, to convince them to prevent people from boarding flights to Minsk. The EU has also announced that new sanctions will be imposed on Alexander Lukashenko’s regime next week.