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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Belarus made millions on migrants, says Polish official

15.10.2021 19:00
A Polish security official has said that Belarusian authorities have earned millions of dollars by orchestrating an influx of migrants to Poland and other countries on the eastern edges of the European Union.
A barbed-wire fence on Polands eastern border with Belarus to keep out migrants trying to cross into the country.
A barbed-wire fence on Poland's eastern border with Belarus to keep out migrants trying to cross into the country.Photo: PAP/Marcin Onufryjuk

Stanisław Żaryn, spokesman for Poland’s security-services chief, told reporters on Friday that migrants were paying between USD 2,000 and USD 14,000 per person for help in illegally crossing the frontier.

“These inflows should be treated as revenue for the regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko,” Żaryn said, as quoted by the state PAP news agency. 

He added that migrants were being issued formal invitations by the state-controlled Centrkurort travel agency, while profits were flowing mainly to the Minsk airport, the Belavia airline, and directly to the Lukashenko administration.

Poland and the Baltic states have accused Belarus of using migrants as a political weapon to put pressure on the European Union. Poland and the Baltic states have accused Belarus of using migrants as a political weapon to put pressure on the European Union. Image: gov.pl

“Belavia has been hit by EU sanctions and is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy, yet now it is making enormous profits on illegal migration,” Żaryn said. 

He added that Belarusian security services, including the country's border service, “which is directly involved in transporting migrants to the frontier zone,” were also benefiting financially from the scheme.

Żaryn was also quoted as saying that there was evidence some of the large profits were flowing to “those institutions which are directly implicated in aggressive action towards Poland and the Polish people.” 

Overall, proceeds from "the migrant route" for the Belarus state have so far reached "tens of millions of dollars,” he estimated.

Meanwhile, Poland’s Border Guard on Friday said it had recorded 682 illegal attempts to cross the Polish-Belarusian frontier the previous day alone.

Polish guards detained eight Iraqi nationals who managed to get through to the Polish side of the border, while other attempts were prevented, the agency said.

It also announced the detention of 11 people for supporting such illegal attempts, among them individuals from Iraq, Germany, Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and Poland.

Since the beginning of the year, the Border Guard has recorded 19,500 attempts to cross illegally into Poland from Belarus, of which more than 7,000 attempts took place in October, the PAP news agency reported.

On Thursday, Polish lawmakers backed a government plan to build a wall on the border with Belarus, in a bid to stave off an influx of migrants from the Middle East.

(pm/gs)

Source: PAP