Migrants never left without help
In view of conflicts and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and Syria, the number of forced migrants and those seeking asylum in Belarus considerably rose last year, and continues to grow in 2015
At a press conference in Minsk, the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Belarus, Jean-Yves Bouchardy, stressed that the UNHCR is taking an active role in providing assistance to these people. This February, UNHCR representatives, in co-operation with the Interior Ministry of Belarus, met 14 Syrian refugees at Minsk Airport, arriving from Lebanon. Six adults and eight children were taken to Gomel to be settled in temporary accommodation centre, with later movement to more permanent housing, following administrative paperwork. The UNHCR has been working with the Interior Ministry on a project entitled Providing Protection to the Most Vulnerable Categories of Persons Seeking for Asylum in the Republic of Belarus, who Have Suffered as a Result of Humanitarian Crisis.
“This is a unique event, as your country has been the first to take action as a country of resettlement,” underlines Mr. Bouchardy. “Syrian citizens arriving independently are also seeking asylum in Belarus. Among them are students studying here, who have lost connection with their relatives following conflict in Syria.”
In collaboration with the Belarusian Interior Ministry and partner associations, the UNHCR is endeavouring to assess the situation and provide comprehensive assistance to the most vulnerable groups. At the end of last year, a short-term poll was conducted among Ukrainian citizens resident in Belarus, revealing difficulties in finding jobs and housing, problems relating to paying for medical services on a very limited family budget, and difficulties in receiving pensions. Work continues with focus groups of Ukrainian citizens across Belarus.
Those from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan are currently most often seeking asylum in the Republic of Belarus, with Ukrainians being the most numerous. Among states bordering Ukraine, Belarus is ranked second only to the Russian Federation in terms of the number of accepted Ukrainian citizens.
By Anastasia Shoplya