EU Mulls Sanctions on Belarus Airlines Bringing Migrants from Middle East

A picture taken on November 9, 2021 shows migrants at the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region. - Poland and Belarus squared off on November 9 over thousands of migrants aiming to enter EU member Poland, with Warsaw saying the wave threatened the security of the entire bloc. Minsk warned …
LEONID SHCHEGLOV/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union is reportedly considering sanctions against Belarusian airlines that brought migrants from the Middle East to Minsk.

Earlier this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen commented on the possibility that the European Union could launch sanctions against airlines bringing migrants to Belarus who go on to attempt to cross illegally into EU member-states.

“The EU will … explore how to sanction, including through blacklisting, third-country airlines that are active in human trafficking,” President Von der Leyen said in an official statement.

The Belarusian airline Belavia has been accused of arranging direct flights from various Middle Eastern cities to the Belarusian capital of Minsk, from which migrants set off for the EU’s eastern borders. Some in the EU have been considering sanctions against the airline since late last month.

According to InfoMigrants, the airline leases several aircraft from European Union-based companies, some of which are based in Ireland. Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Foreign Minister, said that he would support sanctions against future leasing contracts but not against existing contracts currently in force.

On Wednesday, Belavia released a statement to the Guardian newspaper claiming that was not involved in the trafficking of migrants to the EU border area, and that it simply did not refuse those with correct documentation the ability to travel.

“Belavia does not operate, and during the calendar year 2021 has not operated, scheduled or charter services to any of the following countries, which Belavia understands to be those countries which are the subject of allegations regarding migrant trafficking: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan and Syria,” the airline claimed.

“Based on sales analysis, Belavia has blocked reservation and ticketing abilities for certain travel agencies considered at risk [of making] ticket sales to citizens from high-risk countries,” they suggested.

Along with Belarusian airlines, the European Union is also allegedly considering sanctions against Minsk airport over the ongoing migrant crisis. German airline Lufthansa’s division Lufthansa Cargo is said to operate at the airport and could therefore be impacted by such sanctions.

The situation on the border between Poland and Belarus remains tense as migrants mass along the frontier building camps, and some have warned the situation could spiral into armed conflict.

Former Belarusian ambassador and government minister Pavel Latushka, who fled to Poland in 2020 for his own safety, has alleged that Belarus is actively training and arming Iraqis and Afghanis to engage in terrorist attacks in Europe.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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