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InvestmentsTurkey curbs flights to Belarus to ease migrant crisis By Reuters

Turkey curbs flights to Belarus to ease migrant crisis By Reuters


© Reuters. Polish police guard Poland/Belarus border close to Kuznica, Poland, on this {photograph} launched by the Police, November 12, 2021. Policja Podlaska/Handout by way of REUTERS

By Robin Emmott and Tuvan Gumrukcu

BRUSSELS/ANKARA (Reuters) -Turkey banned Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi residents from flights to Minsk on Friday, probably closing off one of many essential routes that the EU says Belarus has used to fly in migrants by the thousand to engineer a humanitarian crisis on its frontier.

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East are sheltering in freezing circumstances within the woods on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, that are refusing to allow them to cross. Some have already died and there are fears for the protection of the remaining as bitter winter circumstances settle in.

The European Union accuses Minsk of making the crisis as a part of a “hybrid attack” https://www.reuters.com/world/russia-flies-nuclear-capable-bombers-over-belarus-migrant-crisis-escalates-2021-11-10 on the bloc – distributing Belarusian visas within the Middle East, flying within the migrants and pushing them to cross the border illegally. Brussels might impose new sanctions as early as Monday on Belarus and airways it blames for ferrying the migrants.

EU officers welcomed Friday’s announcement by Turkey’s Civil Aviation General Directorate that Syrians, Yemenis and Iraqis wouldn’t be permitted to purchase tickets to Belarus or board flights there from Turkish territory.

Turkey has denied taking part in a direct position by permitting its territory to be used to ferry in migrants. But Minsk airport’s web site listed six business flights arriving from Istanbul on Friday, essentially the most from any metropolis exterior the previous Soviet Union.

EU officers have repeatedly stated their greatest hope of resolving the crisis is to cease would-be migrants within the Middle East from boarding flights for Belarus on the supply, and that diplomats had been negotiating within the area to obtain this.

“These contacts are already showing fruit,” a European Commission spokesperson stated.

The spokesperson stated Iraqi Airways had additionally agreed to halt flights to Belarus.

SANCTIONS

Belarus denies fomenting the crisis, however has additionally stated it can’t assist resolve it except Europe lifts present sanctions. The EU imposed a number of rounds of measures in response to President Alexander Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on mass avenue protests towards his rule in 2020.

Lukashenko, an in depth ally of Russia, threatened this week to lower off Russian fuel provides delivered to Europe via Belarusian territory. On Friday, the Kremlin appeared to distance itself from that risk, saying it was not consulted upfront of Lukashenko’s remarks and it could fulfil its fuel supply contracts.

But Moscow reveals no signal of leaning on Lukashenko to resolve the border crisis, and has made quite a few demonstrations of its army assist for him in current days. Russian and Belarusian paratroopers held joint drills close to the border on Friday, and the Russian air power has despatched planes this week to patrol the frontier.

“From our point of view, the Russian president has the possibility to influence the situation and we expect him to take appropriate steps,” a German authorities spokesperson stated.

At the border, Polish authorities stated that they had foiled 223 makes an attempt to cross the border illegally from Belarus in a single day, together with two giant teams. They estimate the variety of migrants trapped alongside the border at 3,000-4,000.

Neighbouring Lithuania reported 110 crossing makes an attempt in a single day and stated it could be ending a 100-km razor wire barrier alongside the border by Dec. 10.

Expressing assist for Warsaw, Ukraine stated on Friday it was sending border guards and nationwide guard officers to its frontier with Poland to share intelligence and operational know-how on coping with the Belarus migrant crisis.

FREEZING CONDITIONS

The EU has backed Poland and Lithuania in taking a tough line on banning unlawful crossings from Belarus for worry that permitting in even a small quantity would encourage big numbers to observe.

But charities and advocates say the freezing circumstances have created a humanitarian emergency, and that EU states have an obligation to permit entry to meals and shelter. The media has additionally been saved away, which critics say conceals the size of the crisis.

“Access for independent observers and the media is essential,” stated Iwo Los, from Grupa Granica (Border Group), a Polish organisation. “These people… have to receive humanitarian aid, medical aid and this aid must be provided to them on both sides of the border.”

The Baltic nations bordering Belarus worry the crisis might escalate right into a army confrontation. The presidents of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will meet on Monday in Vilnius to focus on the crisis and be joined by video hyperlink by Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Interior ministers of the 4 international locations are due to name on worldwide organizations to assist avert a humanitarian crisis by partaking immediately with Minsk.

“We call upon you to engage with Belarusian authorities and other relevant stakeholders in order to organize humanitarian and medical assistance for the people whose arrival to their territory they have organised themselves,” they’ll say in accordance to a duplicate of the letter seen by Reuters.

(Reporting Robin Emmott and Marine Strauss in Brussels, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, Andrius Sytas in Kapciamietsis, Lithuania, Dmitry Antonov and Andrew Osborn in Moscow, Ahmed Rasheed in BaghdadWriting by Jan Lopatka and Tomasz JanowskiEditing by Peter Graff)

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