Germany says no to call by Belarus to take in 2,000 refugees
Belarus began moving more than 1,000 migrants to a warehouse near the Kuznica border crossing on Wednesday, away from makeshift camps along the border
Germany rejected Belarus’s proposal that Europe take in 2,000 of the refugees stranded on the border with Poland as the government in Minsk moved to ease the crisis and shift the migrants from the exposed ground near the fence to nearby warehouse.
The EU will do everything it can to provide for asylum seekers suffering in the cold, German interior minister Horst Seehofer told reporters in Warsaw. “What we won’t do is take in refugees — that we give in to pressure and say we’re going to take refugees in European countries.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko proposed Europe set up a “humanitarian corridor” to Germany for migrants in a phone conversation with Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this week, while the regime in Minsk would seek to return a further 5,000 refugees to the Middle East, his spokesperson told state news agency Belta on Thursday.
After violence broke out on the border earlier in the week with refugees seeking to breach the fence, Belarus began taking steps to de-escalate the crisis. EU leaders have accused Lukashenko of engaging in a “hybrid attack” against the bloc by channelling refugees west towards Poland in retaliation for EU sanctions on his regime imposed after a brutal crackdown on political opponents.
Lukashenko, who is facing a fresh round of sanctions from the EU, had a second phone conversation with the outgoing German leader, which he signalled was aimed at defusing the standoff. Belarusian officials began moving more than 1,000 migrants to a warehouse near the Kuznica border crossing on Wednesday, away from makeshift camps scattered along the border. That process was completed Thursday, officials said.
Lukashenko’s spokesperson, Natalya Eismont, said that about 400 migrants agreed to return to Iraq by plane Thursday.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said he’d told Merkel that Poland would not permit other EU member states to decide on issues on Polish sovereignty. A so-called corridor could encourage illegal migration into the EU, the Polish leader said.
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