Turkey’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the country had introduced a ban on flights from its territory to Minsk on Friday for citizens of Syria, Yemen and Iraq. Istanbul is one of the main air hubs through which migrants get to Belarus.
“Due to the problem of illegal border crossing between the European Union and Belarus, it was decided that citizens of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, who want to travel to Belarus from our country’s airports, would not be sold tickets, so that they would not be able to travel there by plane” – stated the aviation authorities in Ankara .
The crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border. Conversations with carriers
According to the Reuters Agency, the Belarusian state airline Belavia has announced that they will follow these guidelines. Earlier, the website of the Minsk airport informed about six flights from Istanbul planned on Friday.
Also on Friday, EC spokeswoman Dana Spinant said all airlines contacted by the Commission strongly condemned any form of human trafficking and expressed their full commitment to fight it.
Spinant explained that she is in contact with the aviation sector to counter the smuggling of migrants to Belarus. She indicated that it concerns, inter alia, Arab air carrier organizations and the International Air Transport Association IATA, as well as specific airlines.
She added that the EC is examining the possibility of introducing sanctions, including blacklisting airlines that do not cooperate in this matter and are complicit in the situation at the EU border.
The main air hubs through which migrants get to Belarus are Istanbul, Dubai and Moscow.
The largest refugee population in the world
According to UN data, Turkey currently has the largest refugee population in the world, consisting of 3.6 million Syrians and 330,000 people. refugees and asylum seekers of other nationalities.
In March 2016, the EU concluded an agreement with Ankara providing for the return to Turkey of all migrants who had illegally reached Greece. In return, the EU has promised Ankara financial aid of EUR 6 billion for the care of migrants, as well as unfrozen accession negotiations and liberalizing the visa policy.
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