The current refugee crisis looks a bit different than it did in 2015 – as a huge smuggling business has developed around it in recent weeks and months. Refugees can now easily fly from many Middle Eastern countries to Belarus and eventually be smuggled into Europe.
At issue is a new smuggling route that is relatively dangerous from Minsk, but is nevertheless chosen by a great many refugees. The Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko (67) is not worried about the danger because he can blackmail Europe with people.
This is how the smuggling business works now
Smugglers and travel agencies organize tourist invitations for people from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and Jordan: a visa, a plane ticket and a hotel reservation for a month in Belarus (Minsk) – then by cab and on foot these people continue to Europe, often also to EU countries such as Germany.
“It costs between $1,700 and $3,000,” – A Syrian who wishes to remain anonymous tells BILD. On top of that: you have to pay “$1500” to cross the border into Poland. Further on there is a twelve-kilometer hiking trail. “Then people get into cabs that take them to Germany for another $1,500,” – the Syrian continues.
“My sister has been in Poland for five days and wants to join us in Bavaria, but she is stuck in Poland because she has no money for a cab. We haven’t had any contact with her for two days, we hope she will be in Germany soon.”
Dd June Lukashenko allows refugees from many countries, such as Iraq, to arrive, who are then smuggled into Lithuania or Poland.
$5,000 to smuggle from Iraq to Germany
Ali, an Iraqi, told BILD: “I have been in Germany for twelve days. I paid a total of $5,000 for this. The journey has been very difficult. And it will be even more difficult. On the way we heard about people from my homeland who died trying to get to Europe. This made us afraid. I advise people against this route because it’s dangerous, it’s cold, and the military controls the border. Many Afghans came with us. In the refugee camp where I am now, Afghans are the majority.”
The situation is desperate for many people and very dangerous. Over the past week, dead bodies have already been found on the Polish border.
One refugee told BILD, “My friends are now in the forest in Poland trying to cross the border. The smugglers are demanding $3,000 to take them to the German border in Poland.”
Thousands of people have made it to Germany
One of the people who made it to Germany is Kais from Syria: “I have been in Germany for two days. We were placed in a Berlin shelter. I paid more than 4 thousand dollars. I traveled with five Afghans from Minsk, now we are all in Germany. There are very many people who have also gone this way, but only a few have succeeded. Many others are waiting in Minsk and trying to get to Europe every day.”
Parliamentary secretary of the country in the Federal Ministry of the Interior Stepan Mayer (47, CSU) for BILD: “EU countries must show solidarity with Poland and Lithuania in this situation and clearly and consistently put an end to the Belarusian dictator in his obvious attempt to destabilize and divide the EU with an additional influx of refugees. Lukashenka’s travel agency must be countered by a robust European external border regime with Belarus.”