Several states of the European Union, including neighboring Poland, Estonia and Lithuania, have accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of illegally sending migrants to the EU. , making migrants his political tools and risking the creation of a broad anti-migrant sentiment in the EU
At a press conference last Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel accused Lukashenko of “using refugees. . . from Iraq, in a hybrid way to undermine security. Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE / RL), a US government-funded international radio organization broadcasting from restricted countries, also reports that Lukashenko “has sworn to send drugs and migrants to [the EU] after the imposed block. . . punishments [over a forced flight diversion to Minsk] to arrest an opposition blogger.
This problematic approach to sanctions only worsens the existing crisis. The use of migrants as a political tool risks creating a greater right-wing feeling in the EU and invites refoulement of migrants who are unwittingly used for political ends. In addition, many migrants are really in need and do not want to be involved in the political stalemate between Belarus and the EU.
Belarus’ increased role in the flow of migrants to the EU has seen many more migrants entering European countries this year than in 2020. In Lithuania, for example, Reuters reports that 4,124 people, many of them Iraqis, entered the country illegally in 2021. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda signed a decree on August 13e calling for a deployment of the army to counter illegal border crossings, says RFE / RL. Poland recorded similar numbers and took similar action, deploying more than 900 troops to its border with Belarus last Wednesday.
The EU fears that this increase signals a repeat of the 2015-16 migration crisis. During these years, writes Reuters, “the arrival of over a million people from the Middle East strained the social security and welfare systems and fueled support for far-right groups.” . Without directly mentioning the recent Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, EU interior ministers said there was “a need to strengthen the entire external border of the EU to prevent illegal crossings in the future ”. This uncompromising approach leaves migrants who will be in danger if they return home with few alternatives.
EU leaders should not rush to adopt tough border measures. Rather, it should analyze solutions to alleviate the large number of migrants at the borders of the Polish and Baltic states.
One of these solutions could be to establish quotas for admitting migrants across the bloc. Ylva Johansson, who oversees migration and asylum arrangements in the EU Executive Commission, on Wednesday called on member states to “increase admission quotas for Afghans in need of protection, especially for those in need of protection. women and girls ”. The President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, also proposed that the European Commission “take care of” also “relocating the Afghan refugees after the takeover of their country by the Taliban. “
While an admission quota solution is unlikely to solve the influx of migrants, it would alleviate the situation in the eastern part of the bloc. Migrants arriving in Poland or Lithuania could then move on to other EU countries, which could put less pressure on Polish and Lithuanian institutions. However, countries like Poland and Hungary are opposed to such plans. These countries are unlikely to approve if the EU offers an admission quota solution.
Regardless of where migrants end up in the EU, EU officials and institutions must ensure that these people have access to basic resources (including food, water and a place to stay. sleeping), healthy conditions in shelters and a transparent process for asylum seekers.
EU leaders should also refrain from any harsh rhetoric that could encourage far-right groups. Much of the bloc’s attitude towards migrants is influenced by comments from officials, who may welcome new arrivals or fuel the opposition. Earlier this week, Polish Deputy Prime Minister Piotr Gliński said his country “defended itself against the wave of refugees in 2015 and now it will defend itself as well”. Far-right groups do not hesitate to take these comments to pursue anti-migrant sentiment in the bloc. Messages from EU officials should be used to find solutions, rather than creating new problems.
Open dialogue with EU leaders is more likely to produce a pleasant outcome for both migrants and European countries. EU officials should not rely solely on hard approaches, but rather collaborate as a bloc to overcome logistical challenges related to admission quotas, process asylum claims and create solutions to ensure that migrants can apply for asylum.