Because of the situation with migrants, German politicians are moving to more decisive actions.
"I'm waiting for an end to the human trafficking that Lukashenka leads. We can only treat the symptoms, but the cause is in Minsk, and it has to be eliminated," said Minister of the Interior of the Federal State of Brandenburg Michael Stübgen at a press conference on October 14 in Eisenhüttenstadt, where the Center for the initial reception and accommodation of refugees is located, reports dw.com.
The transit of refugees organized by the Minsk regime, mainly from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Iran to the countries of the European Union, apparently became a significant source of income after other incomes were reduced due to the sanctions imposed by the West. Germany, to which the main flow of illegal migrants goes through Belarus and Poland, is forced to bear increasing costs for their maintenance.
The onslaught of illegal immigrants on Brandenburg and Berlin
Until now, the main burden falls on the shoulders of taxpayers in Brandenburg, which borders Poland. From January to July 2021, a total of only 26 migrants who arrived via Belarusian transit were registered here. In August, there were already 474, in September - 1914. And in the first half of October, there are already more than 2,000. According to the German Interior Ministry's calculations, the influx of refugees from this direction is now 10 times higher than during the same period in 2019, when there were still no restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Approximately 2,800 refugees are currently housed in the various refugee camps in Brandenburg. With the help of heated tents, the total number of beds has already been increased to 4,600, and it is planned to increase it to 5,000 in the coming days.
The number of refugees is also growing in Berlin, located just 80 kilometers from the Polish border. In October, more than 400 people arrive every week in the capital's hostels for refugees. Of the 20,800 available, 19,958 have already been filled. "The next two or three weeks are going to be interesting," jokes Sascha Langenbach of the Berlin Refugee Office.
The situation now, of course, cannot be compared with the migration crisis of 2015-2016, says Berlin Senator for Labor, Social Affairs, and Integration Elke Breitenbach, but the growing influx of migrants through Belarus and Poland in the capital of Germany is being watched with "professional anxiety."
How much do German refugees cost?
To relieve the burden on the state authorities, the Ministry of the Interior of Germany decided to send its specialists to the local refugee registration centers. This, according to a representative of the Interior Ministry, should speed up the distribution of migrants to the different federal states in accordance with the established quotas.
The more refugees there are in Germany, the higher the costs of their reception, accommodation, and maintenance. Pending the consideration of their asylum applications, which in some cases can take months, each adult receives a cash benefit (328 euros per month for an adult in the hostel), if he falls ill, he is treated at public expense. But the most expensive is the necessary infrastructure.
In the pre-pandemic year 2019, Germany's total refugee-related spending was almost € 4.5 billion. After a record 2016 (over 9 billion euros), they have been declining year after year. Now, most likely, they will start to grow again.
"New" refugees: educated, well-mannered
According to Olaf Jansen, director of the Center for Initial Reception and Accommodation of Refugees in Eisenhüttenstadt, the appearance of illegal migrants has recently changed significantly.
Before early to mid-September, he told DW, most of them made a rather pitiful impression: emaciated, in torn clothing. "It was noticeable that there were some among them who had spent a lot of time in the wilderness somewhere," Jansen said. - Now it's more like the exception, and most people look quite happy, they're not traumatized, they're in good physical condition, they're decently dressed.
The social portrait of refugees has also changed: there are more educated people with good manners and clearly having decent financial resources, DW's interlocutor noted. According to him, the delivery of refugees to Germany is now very professional.
Belarusian transit is no longer a "Balkan route," which refugees often traveled to the European Union for weeks on foot in 2015 and 2016. Now the "escape" is more like a tour composed of different stages. There are now travel agencies on the Internet offering customers from different countries various options for transit to the EU.
According to the Polish special services, such bureaus are connected with the Belarusian authorities. The German Foreign Ministry also has no doubts that "the Lukashenka regime participates in organizing the delivery of people through Belarus and Poland to Germany or other EU countries and actively manages it."
All-Inclusive Illegal Migration
The package of services of the mentioned travel agencies includes an air ticket, a Belarusian visa, a hotel in Minsk, delivery by road to the border with Poland (the last kilometers, however, you have to walk through the forest on foot), then a taxi or minibus from the eastern Polish border directly to Germany. According to Olaf Jansen, the cost of such a trip ranges from 4 to 12 thousand dollars, depending on the point of departure.
From Iraq, for example, shipping to Germany in just a few days costs about $ 10,000. For a hotel in Minsk alone and a Belarusian visa, they take three thousand. Until recently, Iraqi Airways flew to Minsk from several Iraqi cities: from Basra, Erbil, Sulaimaniyah, and from Baghdad - even four times a week.
Under pressure from Berlin, the Iraqi government stopped direct flights with Belarus. According to the German Foreign Ministry, for the same purpose, negotiations are underway with other countries that maintain direct flights with Belarus, in particular with Congo and Pakistan. But this is not a solution to the problem, Olaf Jansen believes: "Well, now they do not fly directly from Baghdad to Minsk, but first from Baghdad to Istanbul, Tehran, or Beirut, and from there to Minsk. Or via Moscow."
For example, Belavia takes an adult passenger from Istanbul to Minsk in two and a half hours and charges from €216 to €408 depending on the date of the flight.
Germany insists on tougher sanctions against Lukashenka
Let us remind you that yesterday the EU announced the introduction of the fifth package of sanctions against the Lukashenka regime in November.
At the same time, it is Germany that insists on toughening sanctions against Lukashenka.
“Already now, Germany is the engine of the sanctions policy, where exactly today the Social Democrats, Greens, and Liberals have made significant progress towards creating a new government coalition. In the new government, radical opponents of the Belarusian regime from the Green Party and the liberal FDP will have strong positions, and observers predict Annalena Baerbock (the Greens) for the post of the country's foreign minister. Negotiations between potential coalition partners are progressing unexpectedly quickly. If the coordination of sanctions at the EU level is delayed (which we should not rule out), it will be the new German government and its foreign policy bloc that will have the final word," says German-Belarusian historian Alexander Friedman.