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Opinions & Interviews

18 Jun 2015

UNHCR: Belarus is now home to over 100,000 Ukrainians

UNHCR: Belarus is now home to over 100,000 Ukrainians

MINSK, 18 June (BelTA) – Belarus is now home to over 100,000 citizens of Ukraine, BelTA learned from Jean-Yves Bouchardy, representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), during a press conference on 18 June.

According to the source, the Ukrainians that have come to Belarus represent a 1% addition to the country’s total population. “If we add all the people the UNHCR mandate covers, then every 75th person in the country is either a refugee or a stateless person or a person that seeks shelter in Belarus. Ukrainians represent the majority of the people that seek shelter in Belarus,” said Jean-Yves Bouchardy.

Belarus is the second most popular destination for Ukrainian migrants after Russia among the countries Ukraine borders on. Belarus is the most popular destination in terms of the number of Ukraine citizens per 1,000 capita.

In his words, Ukrainian citizens that come to Belarus are the center of attention of the UNHCR’s representative office. But aid is also granted to shelter-seeking people from other countries, primarily people from Syria and Afghanistan. “They are in a worse position than Ukrainians because they don’t speak Russian, which seriously hinders employment opportunities,” said Jean-Yves Bouchardy.

Speaking about Belarus’ great contribution to the resolution of global refugee problems, Jean-Yves Bouchardy mentioned the joint humanitarian project that involved the Belarusian Interior Ministry and envisaged the relocation of three families of Syrian refugees from Lebanon (a total of 14 people, including eight children under 10). “They were welcomed in the airport, transported to Gomel, housed in the resettlement center, and then moved to the housing that had been prepared for them,” said Jean-Yves Bouchardy. He stressed that Belarus is the only CIS state that have responded to the UNHCR’s appeal to resettle the Syrian families and shared the burden of welcoming forced migrants.

The UNHCR representative thanked Belarus for developing national and regional mechanisms for the social and economic integration of refugees.

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