Belarus orchestrates arrival of charter migrants to put pressure on Europe

They are quickly spotted in the small departures hall of Beirut airport. Young men without suitcases, with only a small backpack at their feet. They don’t have the rushed look of the traveler who rushes through security checks. They came hours in advance. This Tuesday, November 9, they are preparing to embark for Minsk. By a direct flight with the Belarusian company Belavia.

Ammar (name has been changed), a Syrian in his twenties, hastens to say he is on his way to the Belarusian capital “As a tourist”. “Look, I have my return ticket”, he adds, unfolding a printed sheet. “Those who leave will not speak”, had warned a tour operator – a gun on his desk and a wad of dollars in hand – for whom this new destination has become a bonanza.

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Ammar speaks a little. He is not the only one who claims to have a desire for tourism in Belarus, as little credible as it is for a young Syrian refugee who lives in Lebanon – in other words, with very few resources. Then he finally admits it. Yes, he will try his luck and approach Fortress Europe. The ticket, the hotel waiting for it in Belarus, has been booked with a tour operator near Beirut. For the visa, he went through the Honorary Consul of Belarus in Lebanon, who has his own travel agency. Everything is in order, he insists. This is the subtlety of the sordid game of departures from the Middle East to Belarus: to look like legality. Ammar does not hide it: these are “Networks” who await him once there. It is part of the panoply.

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Already a down jacket

We talk about the dead on the border between Belarus and Poland. “But what should I do? Stay here ? What is my future here? “ – Lebanon being plunged into an economic and financial cataclysm. Ammar travels with other compatriots. Laughter bursts out, between excitement and nervousness. We take a picture of ourselves. Then comes the moment of farewell. Long hugs with relatives who remain in Lebanon. Tears flow. At the end of the road, who knows what he will find?

There will be Germany, wants to believe Hassan, who hopes to join relatives there, Syrians like him. This forty-something leaves wife and children in Lebanon, where he worked for a long time as a worker – “We were doing well before the crisis. “ He leaves for them, for him. He measures the danger. He is not fooled: Belarus does not open its doors out of benevolence. Whatever: a road has opened towards, perhaps, a little stability.

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Belarus orchestrates arrival of charter migrants to put pressure on Europe

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