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Opinions & Interviews

23 Oct 2018

Joint project to combat illegal migration seen as milestone of Belarus-EU cooperation

Joint project to combat illegal migration seen as milestone of Belarus-EU cooperation

MINSK, 23 October (BelTA) – The joint project designed to help Belarus handle the increased irregular migration flows is an important step in Belarus-EU cooperation, Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin told the media, BelTA has learned.

The project was registered in August this year and was inaugurated in a ceremony at the Beijing Hotel in Minsk. The project is funded by the European Union and is implemented by the International Organization for Migration Office in Belarus in cooperation with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Border Committee. The budget of the project is €7 million.

Head of the EU Delegation to Belarus Andrea Wiktorin emphasized that time was needed to complete the preparations for the project. “Now we are ready to launch it. This is an important step in cooperation between the European Union and Belarus. We want to do what is needed for irregular migrants. First of all, this pertains to human rights, creation of the necessary conditions for pregnant women, children and other vulnerable groups,” Andrea Wiktorin said.

“The project provides for preparations and training, provision of legal consultations, as well as the work to adapt the national legislation to the international law. We will closely cooperate with the Belarusian side,” Andrea Wiktorin said.

Belarus is extremely interested in this project, Deputy Chairman of the State Border Committee Igor Pechen said. “It will help us build up our capacities by renovating the existing facilities for irregular migrants. It also provides for the construction of a center for migrants at the Polotsk border detachment. This is much needed. Since the beginning of this year alone, border guards have detained 668 violators - irregular migrants from more than 60 countries. The number of irregular migrants has increased by more than 30% over the same period a year before. There are more women and children among them. We need facilities for migrants to ensure their rights are observed and if necessary, to provide them with medical and psychological assistance. This project will enable us to achieve these goals,” Igor Pechen said.

The project seeks to enable voluntary return of migrants to their homeland without deportation. The border guard service will also receive vehicles to transport migrants.

The project provides for the construction of new centers and also renovation of the existing ones.

The project, its goals and objectives were laid out during the ceremony. An additional protocol to the Protocol of Intent on Cooperation was signed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the IOM, the Belarusian Red Cross Society and the public association Belarusian Movement of Healthcare Employees. The additional protocol seeks to monitor the access for foreign citizens and stateless persons to the refugee status or subsidiary protection mechanism in Belarus.

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