In 2021, a cross-border humanitarian crisis began on the border between Belarus and neighboring states of the European Union (hereinafter referred to as the EU), when, in aggregate, tens of thousands of transit refugees arrived and continue to arrive singly or in groups to Belarus to cross the border with the EU and apply for international protection.
If in 2021 we observed the organized arrival of foreigners mainly from the countries of the Middle East on tourist visas, mass gatherings of refugees on the streets of Minsk and a refugee camp in Bruzgi, then
in 2022 the picture has changed, although the humanitarian crisis itself and violations of the human rights of migrants by Belarus and neighboring countries – Poland, Lithuania and Latvia – has continued.
In January 2022, about 700 migrants remained in the refugee camp. In March 2022, the camp completely ceased to exist, and the refugees who remained in it were sent home or settled around Belarus in anticipation of being sent home. A new stage of ignoring the problem on the part of the Belarusian authorities, the reduction of flights from the Middle East to Belarus and the construction of new barriers at the border have led to a change in the dynamics of the humanitarian crisis and new problems for transit refugees.
This report maps the main stages of the humanitarian crisis in 2022, analyzes important developments in terms of the protection and promotion of human rights, and formulates recommendations for states affected by the humanitarian crisis and other important actors.
This report is based on information collected by the human rights organization Human Constanta during 2022 from open sources, including news reports from the Belarusian border committee, statistics from the border services of Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, as well as testimonies of refugees/migrants in transit who are in Belarus or have already left it.
In preparing the report, we analyzed the Belarusian legislation in the field of international protection and law enforcement practice in 2022.