Belarusian social networks are seething with videos and photos of groups of people who have come to Belarus from the Middle East and Africa; we keep receiving information about them from our readers living in various corners of the country. To show the gravity of the situation, Belsat.eu has picked out a number of reports that date back to late September – early October.
According to our information, migrants fly to Minsk from Istanbul, Dubai and Damascus. In the summer of 2021, new flights from Baghdad, Basra, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah to the Belarusian capital city had been launched, but after the intervention of Lithuania and the European Commission, they were canceled.
Our reader sent us pictures of the process of registration for the flight to Minsk at Istanbul Airport. 127 passengers, mostly from Iraq, were accompanied by a guide who coordinated the group.
A Belsat journalist also noticed about 50 passengers from the Middle East at the same airport; they were checking in, standing in a separate queue to the Belarusian national air carrier Belavia’s stand.
Migrants’ visiting Belarus usually begins at Minsk Airport. There are Arabic-language Tik-Tok videos showing that the main Belarusian airport was literally overflowing with people from the Middle East who were waiting for something.
@hasanbiek #بيلاروسيا لا حدا يطللع ما عم يدخلوا حدا بالمطار #اوروبا #المانيا #فيزا ♬ الصوت الأصلي – Hasan Biek
We obtained the following information from our reader about the situation at the airport:
“You cannot imagine what is happening at our airport, and, to be more specific, in the transit zone. There is a disaster. Nobody knows what the airport director is doing. As one can see, he does not care about COVID-19. Migrants who have no masks are lying on the floor everywhere, even in International Arrivals Hall 3-4 (on the ground floor), right next to the border guards’ cabins. Even the border guards are shocked.”
Iraqis may be using a separate border checkpoint marked with an Iraqi flag (Photo 1 below), another reader noted.
“The migrants fly via Dubai, they have everything arranged at the exit – a similar-looking person with a briefcase is greeting them [at Minsk Airport],” reports the reader who photographed the scene (Photo 3 below).
After leaving the airport, migrants find their way to hotels in Minsk:
“The regime is filling Belarus with migrants from the East, we receive photos and videos of migrants from many parts of the country, mainly from Minsk and Hrodna. People of oriental appearance gather around hotels, sit on the ground, they have bags. In this video, migrants are the vicinity of the Willing Hotel,” informs the popular Telegram channel My Country Belarus.
The photo was taken in Minsk, in front of the Uschodni Bus Station. “From time to time one can observe large groups of people of non-Slavic appearance wo have bags and backpacks near the East Time Hotel. They are usually dressed in warm, winter clothes,” our reader writes.
Some wait in the streets:
There are also photos of migrants’ staying overnight in the underground passage not far the Sputnik hotel. Such scene is very untypical of Minsk, where the authorities take special care of order on the main streets.
The reputed Belarusian blogger Anton Matolka has even made a map of hotels in Minsk where visitors from the Middle East stay:
While waiting for their transfer to the border, migrants go to markets and shopping centres. They buy warm clothes, rubber boots and gloves:
“Our reader happened to be a witness to the following situation in the Galeria shopping centre: buses having Belarusian number plates have brought crowds of migrants. They stopped there. Some are sitting on the lawn. Lukashenka’s traffickers no longer hide what they are doing. Previously, they tried to cover up the facts of their migrant smuggling, but now no one cares,” My Country Belarus reports.
Our correspondent took a photo of one of the migrants at the Expobel market. The man bought ten pairs of rubber boots.
“They go to Expobel. They warm up. Each has thick gloves in bags (most likely, to protect their hands from barbed wire) to cross the border,” witnesses write.
“A sudden influx of people of Arabшс appearance was noticed at the fishing articles market in Zhdanovichy [near Minsk – Belsat.eu], they buy cheap tents, sleeping bags, jackets, pants, socks, shoes. According to the sellers, for the past week the stream of people has been flowing continuously; they are always accompanied by an interpreter. He helps to choose a product and, if necessary, translates into Arabic and from Arabic,” The Belarus Outside Minsk Ring Road Telegram channel reports.
Migrants also appear in the Belarusian city of Hrodna (it is about 23 km away from the border with Poland). Our reader photographed one of these groups near the bus station while its members were looking for a taxi. Some migrants stay in the hostel on Karl Marx Street; among them there are ‘many black Africans with children at the age of 2-3 years’, our informant says.
Another group in Lenin Street in Hrodna:
Migrants at Hrodna Bus Station:
According to the Telegram channel NEXTA, Hrodna policemen even ‘took care’ of a group of migrants who stayed overnight in the open air on Yanka Kupala Avenue: “In the morning the officers arrived, took their things and drove the ‘tourists’ away.”
The NEXTA telegram channel also writes about groups of potential migrants in the border region of Brest:
“Our subscribers report that there are a lot of people of Asian and Middle Eastern appearance in Brest. They walk around the city in groups accompanied by people in civilian clothes and gather in touristic places – for example, near the Brest Fortress. Border guard buses (having special number plates) carry participants in some of the ‘excursions’; a military vehicle escort them.
One of the groups was accompanied by border guards and paratroopers (all of them were wearing uniforms). However, migrants are not very interested in sightseeing – they travel by buses and look rather worried and scared.”
A Belsat reader took a picture of one of the groups in the border area. The photo shows the migrants getting off in the village of Padlabenne (5 km away from the border with Poland). Before setting off towards the EU-Belarus border, visitors reportedly knocked on the doors of the nearby houses and asked for food.
On TikTok there are also reports of crossing the border in Arabic. A user under the nickname @mohamadalkadree who was involved in the shady undertaking posted a whole sequence of videos describing their story, including the arrival in Minsk and the journey towards the border.
@awropa6 ريكا بيلاروسيا يا هي حه تاالمانيا كرتني 100% باشرين ريك سه ركه فتن ريكا مه يه انشالله #لايك #فولو #متابعه #بيلاروسيا #بولندا #المانيا #كوجر#💪#🇩🇪 ♬ الصوت الأصلي – ريك بو المانيا كرتني 100%
Another video of migrants warming up around a fire:
@kadm1kحدود بيلاروسيا 🇧🇾 بولندا 🇵🇱 ✌️🤲♬ الصوت الأصلي – ۰۪۫K۪۫۰۰۪۫A۪۫۰۰۪۫Z۪۫۰۰۪۫E۪۫۰۰۪
Apparently, the author’s goal is to make the videos creating the impression that such illegal trip to the West through Belarus is nothing but a piece of cake.