German authorities say the flow of migrants arriving via Poland and Belarus has spiked with more than 4,300 illegal entrants to the country since August, amid a long-running crisis in which the European Union has accused Minsk of “weaponizing” refugees.
The German Federal Police said on October 13 that most of the undocumented migrants arriving via the “Belarus route” are from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Iran.
They are mostly being housed at asylum reception centers in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, police said.
“The situation is not drastic, but it is hard,” Olaf Jansen, head of the central foreigners’ office in the eastern German town of Eisenhuettenstadt, said, adding that numbers were likely to increase: “We are not seeing any efforts to halt this.”
Jansen added concerns that COVID-19 could spread among arrivals in the newly erected tents housing many of them.
The arrivals in Germany mark an expansion of similar problems this year as swelling numbers of migrants from increased flights to Belarus have crossed porous borders into EU member states Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland.
EU and national officials have accused Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka of orchestrating the rises in response to Brussels’ sanctions on Minsk over a brutal crackdown on dissent since a 2020 presidential election that is widely considered to have been rigged and Belarusian authorities’ diversion of an international flight to detain a Lukashenka critic in May.
The European Commission said on September 29 that it wants member states to consider suspending parts of a “visa facilitation agreement” with Belarus that came into force in July 2020 and was meant to bring the former Soviet republic closer to Europe.