Night Crossing: Germany is in parentheses as Belarusian routes inflate immigrants.

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On October 14, 2021, a female police officer escorts immigrants at a camp in Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany.Reuters / Hannibal Hanshke

October 14, 2021

Thomas Escrit

Eisenhüttenstadt, Germany (Reuters) – Gina ran through the woods near the Belarus-Polish border at midnight. The cross clenched in his pocket, and a man who believed he was Belarusian police slipped with his mother and sister through a hole in the wire mesh.

Last week, a 17-year-old woman from Erbil in Kurdistan, Iraq, arrived at a rapidly expanding refugee camp in eastern Germany, a few kilometers from the Polish border. She was one of more than 100 refugees arriving daily as news of the Belarusian Corridor to Europe spread throughout the Middle East.

Authorities in Brandenburg, a state in eastern Germany that houses most of the new arrivals, are calling for stricter action on what is considered a hybrid war against the European Union by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. State of retaliation against EU sanctions.

“We are only managing the symptoms here,” said Michael Stuebgen, Brandenburg’s Interior Minister. “The real problem is the smuggling people organized by the Belarusian regime.”

All Iraqis now know about the Belarusian route to the EU, said Gina’s mother Nihaya, who paid $ 15,000 to a trafficker to arrange a trip for herself and her daughter. rice field.

Lukashenko opened its borders to much of the Middle East and Africa, knowing that many would take advantage of the opportunity to pass through the EU, facing severe crackdowns on protests over last year’s reelection victory. .. Poland.

In August, 200 people from Belarus arrived at the Eisenhüttenstadt camp on the German-Polish border, according to Stubegen. Currently, 100-150 people arrive daily. Many are in the wrong direction – of the 120 people who arrived on Wednesday, 7 were positive for COVID-19.

Poland and Lithuania have built fences along the border with Belarus, but few refugees want to stop by in either country.

Destination: Germany via Poland

EU asylum regulations require you to stay in the first registered EU member state. As a result, refugees who want to live in wealthy Germany, the most desirable destination for many EU-detained migrants, can fend off authorities on their way there.

“Everything happened after midnight. It was too dangerous during the day,” said a man, believed to be a Belarusian police officer, who trucked her and dozens of other migrants to the border, piercing the fence and allowing them. The method was explained. Bring them to Poland.

The three sneaked into the forest on the Polish side of the border, and border guards evaded registration before arriving in Germany, with blinking torches, hitchhiking, and being driven by smugglers.

The cross, a gift from her mother, was safely stored in her pocket for fear of the chain getting caught on a branch.

Her mother dreams of Gina settling in Hamburg, where she wants to study engineering at college. If successful, she and her 12-year-old sister Zhino will join the millions of immigrants who settled in Germany in 2015. Many of them are currently thriving.

But Brandenburg, with the headache of resolving hundreds of new arrivals in a former police barracks that have tripled in size with the help of heated tents, is more than from the German government and the EU. We want strong action.

“All airlines that contribute to this trafficking are banned from landing across Europe,” Stubgen said. This could include Belarusian Belavia, which flew Gina from Istanbul to Minsk, as well as Gulf airlines.

(Report by Thomas Escritt; Edited by Mark Heinrich)

Night Crossing: Germany is in parentheses as Belarusian routes inflate immigrants

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