Belarus Clears Border Migrant Camp

The hastily constructed migrant camps on Belarus’s border with Poland have been cleared, Belarus has announced in an effort to defuse the border crisis. 

Reports say that the change in tactic by the Belarusian government to mitigate a crisis that they helped to create. 

Belarus cleared the migrant camps by moving hundreds of people to a warehouse, their fate still uncertain. Some, however, boarded flights back to countries of origin. Hundreds of Iraqis checked in for flights back to Iraq at the Minsk airport, making it the first repatriation flight to take place from the country since August. The flight contained 431 Iraqi migrants on board. 

Belarus had proposed to the European Union that some of its countries take 2,000 migrants and refugees currently within Belarus, which the EU and Germany rejected. 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the European lead in attempting to sort out the crisis. A spokesperson for Belarus said that Merkel had discussed the creation of a corridor for 2,000 migrants to come into Germany, bypassing Poland, but government sources in Germany have said they did not agree to any deal.

The EU said that the only technical talks that would be held would be in order to help return migrants to homelands. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that this was misinformation, and that the only way refugees would be taken in from Belarus was through the EU as a whole, not just to Germany.

The Western response to the Belarus proposal shows that tensions are far from over, according to experts in the field. The U.S. accused the Belarusian government of using migrants and refugees as “pawns in its efforts to be disruptive.”

For months, European countries have accused Belarus of creating this crisis in an effort to destabilize the West. They accused Belarus of flying migrants in and pushing them to the border in order to create a crisis with the EU. 

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