19 January 2018, Friday, 4:41

Belarus To Build Camps For Refugees From Syria, Chechnya, Ukraine?

33
PHOTO: RIA NOVOSTI/HENADZ MELNIK

The EU intends to finance the construction of refugee camps in Belarus.

7 million euros will be allocated to Minsk for this purpose in the coming years. This is stated in the document of the European Commission, intended for internal use only, which journalist of the daily German newspaper Tageszeitung Christian Jacob managed to see. The project description states that it is planned to build migrant accommodation centers of open and closed types at the territory of Belarus. This means that "migrants will be kept locked until they are deported from Belarus or leave it voluntarily," says the article, translated by InoPressa.

The refugee centers are designed for 30-50 people. Above all, three categories of migrants will be placed in the new facilities: refugees from Ukraine, Syria and "persons who escape from the economic crisis in Russia and look for a job in the EU." The author emphasizes that the Chechen refugees might get in this category in the first place.

The camps for migrants are intended “to meet the best EU and international standards." They will create a separate section for women, girls and migrants with families, and provide psychological and medical assistance.

The article states that a prerequisite for the project to build centers for refugees was the close-to-the-end negotiations between the EU and Belarus over three migration agreements. The first provides for the simplification of the conditions of entry for the Belarusian citizens to Schengen countries. The second one provides for the so-called "mobile partnership" - facilitation of issuance of working and student visas. In accordance with the third agreement, Belarus is obliged to take the refugees caught in the EU through its territory (i.e. to conduct readmission).

The third point has to be a response service for the first two, Jacob says. However, negotiations on this very agreement on the return of migrants seem to have been stalled. Since January 10, head of the main consular department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Ihar Fisenka said that Minsk is not currently able to carry out the readmission agreement the way Brussels understands it. "We simply do not have the appropriate infrastructure," – the representative of the diplomatic mission has clarified.

Fisenka has explained that during the negotiations the conditions have changed, also because of the migration crisis that happened in Europe: "Two years ago the attitude towards this issue was one, but after the migration crisis in Europe there has been some reassessment of values, also at the expert level." According to the diplomat, Belarus “needs time and money” to be ready “to admit the people” returning in the framework of readmission.

Fisenka complained that the EU linked the first two agreements with the third too rigidly, and would give visa exemptions only after Minsk signed a readmission clause.

On January 9, Belarus signed a decree on the introduction of a five-day visa-free regime for the citizens of 80 countries, including the United States and the European Union. The document comes into force in one month after the signing. It was pointed out that the move was aimed at enhancing business travelers, tourists and individuals who have regular passports, and will not be applied to foreigners conducting official business-trips.