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Night crossings: Germany braces as Belarus route swells migrant flows

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EISENHUETTENSTADT, Germany, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Zhina ran at nighttime by way of a forest close to the Belarusian-Polish border. Crucifix clenched in her pocket, she slipped along with her mom and youthful sister by way of a gap lower within the wire fence by males she believed have been Belarusian police.

Last week, the 17-year-old from Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan arrived at a quickly swelling refugee camp in jap Germany, just a few km (miles) from the Polish frontier. She was one in every of greater than 100 refugees arriving every day as news of the Belarus hall to Europe spreads across the Middle East.

Authorities in Brandenburg, the jap German state that’s housing many of the new arrivals, are calling for harder motion in opposition to what they see as Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s hybrid conflict in opposition to the European Union – permitting migrants to filter by way of Belarusian borders into Poland or neighbouring Baltic states in retaliation for EU sanctions.

“We are just managing the symptoms here,” mentioned Michael Stuebgen, Brandenburg’s inside minister. “The actual problem is the people smuggling organised by the Belarus regime.”

All Iraqis now know in regards to the Belarusian route to the EU, mentioned Zhina’s mom Nihaya, who paid traffickers $15,000 to rearrange the journey for herself and her daughters.

Facing crippling sanctions over his violent crackdown on protests over his disputed re-election victory final yr, Lukashenko has opened his nation’s borders to a lot of the Middle East and Africa, understanding that many will use the chance to go by way of into the EU, beginning with Poland.

In August, Stuebgen mentioned, 200 arrived from Belarus on the camp in Eisenhuettenstadt, on Germany’s border with Poland. Now, 100-150 are arriving every day. Many are in a nasty approach – of 120 who arrived on Wednesday, seven examined optimistic for COVID-19.

Poland and Lithuania have erected fences alongside their border with Belarus, however few refugees wish to cease in both nation.

DESTINATION: GERMANY VIA POLAND

Under EU asylum guidelines, they’ve to remain within the first EU nation they’re registered in – so refugees eager to live in prosperous Germany – probably the most fascinating vacation spot for a lot of EU-bound migrants – to dodge the authorities on the best way there.

“Everything happened after midnight: it was too dangerous during the day,” mentioned Zhina, describing how males, whom she believed to be Belarusian policemen, had trucked her and dozens of different migrants to the border and lower a gap by way of the fence to allow them to into Poland.

The three sneaked by way of forest on the Polish facet of the border, dodging border guards flashing torches, hitching rides or getting pushed by smugglers throughout Poland, thereby avoiding registration there, earlier than reaching Germany.

The crucifix, a present from her mom, was safely stowed in her pocket out of concern its chain would snag on a department.

Her mom desires of settling in Hamburg, the place Zhina desires to review engineering at college. If profitable, she and her 12-year-old sister Zhino will be a part of the million or so migrants who settled in Germany in 2015, lots of whom at the moment are thriving.

But Brandenburg, which has the headache of settling the tons of of recent arrivals in a former police barracks that it has tripled in dimension with the help of heated tents, is looking for firmer motion from the German authorities and the EU.

Stuebgen referred to as for “a landing ban in all of Europe for all airlines that contribute to this human trafficking” – which may embrace Belarus’s Belavia, which flew Zhina from Istanbul to Minsk, but in addition Gulf airways, officers mentioned.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt
Editing by Mark Heinrich

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A female police officer escorts migrants at a camp in Eisenhuettenstadt, Germany, October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

A woman holds her kid at a camp in Eisenhuettenstadt, Germany, October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

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