How Minsk accepts migrants and why they are not in a hurry to the border with the EU so far

Many migrants who arrived in Minsk do not intend to go to the spontaneous camp on the Belarusian-Polish border because of the terrible conditions in it and hope to wait out the situation in the capital of Belarus. The RBC correspondent found out how they live in it

Where is the meeting place for migrants in Minsk

The capital of Belarus in the rays of the autumn sun looks habitually deserted on a weekday. On the streets you can only meet locals and tourists from Russia. It is difficult to guess at first glance that the city has become the main hub for accepting migrants from the Middle East. The reason is that they move only by a certain route.

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBK

Usually, those who came from a travel agency, as an organized group, get into a minibus and go to one of the capital's hotels, the rest themselves get to the accommodation facility by taxi. A couple of days later the migrants leave for Grodno, and from there & mdash; to the border with Poland. However, over the past few days, there have been almost no new people wishing to get into the spontaneous refugee camp at the Bruzgi checkpoint.

Hundreds of people remained in Minsk. Their meeting place was the Minsk Gallery shopping center in the city center on Pobediteley Avenue, which can be crossed by an underground passage. On Friday, November 12, at the entrance to the underpass, dozens of young men with backpacks and sleeping bags could be seen, who either sat, or left their belongings, stood in groups, or walked from side to side.

Photo : Veronica Vishnyakova/RBC

Together with them were four men of Slavic appearance, who sometimes exchanged a few words with migrants and called on the phone & mdash; This is usually the way group coordinators behave. In total, there were less than a hundred people on the street from the Middle East. There were also a lot of them in the shopping center: they stood in line at the ATM to withdraw money, sat in groups in a cafe or just walked around the premises of the shopping center, using free access to Wi-Fi. None of them moved one by one.

A spontaneous camp in Minsk

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

The RBC correspondent approached the group of men who were watching the visitors from the top floor of the shopping center and asked where they were from. Two of them spoke English. A more talkative named Matin admitted that they all came from different cities in Iraq, mainly from the Kurdish region. For travel they paid from $ 2,400 to $ 5 thousand. According to him, the prices depend on where the person lives. In large cities and the capital Baghdad, the cost of a tour package will be much cheaper than somewhere in the village. All of them flew to Minsk via Istanbul and have been in the city for almost a week.


They are still in no hurry to go to the refugee camp at the border: they have watched many videos that show the Spartan living conditions of their fellow countrymen. In addition, many have friends or relatives there who tell them that it is still impossible to get out of the camp. The Iraqis learned that Poland had closed the border when they arrived in Minsk and checked into a hotel. They still have visas & mdash; they were opened for a 30-day period, but the hotel reservation ended. Where they will live next, they will find out in the evening, they are helped to resolve the issue through the Telegram group. “I had to spend the last night in a one-room apartment with bunk beds. There were 20 of us in total. They gave away $ 10 per night '', & mdash; says Matin, showing on his phone a video of his friends sleeping on such beds.

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

Another young man, 25 years old, approached the group. He asked the RBC correspondent if Poland had opened the border. He himself, like his friends, is not sure of this. While they plan to stay in Minsk: sleeping on a bunk bed is better than in a tent, but they don't know what to do next. They do not want to return home, although three of them are considering such a possibility. Two said that they could admit that they would stay in Minsk for a while, but they had no documents for that. Unlike the residents of the camp near the border with Poland, who had told RBC the day before that Poland had no choice but to surrender and open the border, the newcomers did not share their optimism. They were also not ready to speak on camera: as long as visas are valid, they are in the country legally, but who knows what will happen to them in a couple of weeks. Similar concerns were expressed by other interlocutors of RBC.

In search of a brother

One of them, Rahmatulla, said in excellent English that he had come here from Europe to look for his younger brother. In his youth, he himself moved from Turkey through Italy further to Europe and has long received citizenship, unlearned, lives there and works. The whole family remained in Iraq. He learned that his younger brother had left for Belarus from his father, with whom he stopped communicating. As Rakhmatulla explained, his brother independently issued a visa to Turkey and bought a ticket to Minsk. In his opinion, only those who are not ready to make a little effort or do not know how to do such, in his opinion, elementary things, resort to the services of firms.

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

The Iraqis, he said, had traveled through Minsk before, but it was a small flow, they built the logistics themselves. After the route appeared in the news, and intermediaries began to offer their services, the demand rose sharply. At the same time, the interlocutor of RBC is amazed that many really sell their houses and all property, instead of thinking over the move on their own. According to him, the Kurds will not stop fleeing Iraq: interethnic hatred and corruption in the country are pushing them to take this step. “ It's hard to see that your country has oil, all the riches, but you will never come close to even a particle of it. If you are a Kurd, then your destiny from birth is & mdash; poverty and life on the verge of survival & raquo;, & mdash; he said.

He found his brother three days ago. According to him, he was first in a spontaneous camp at the Bruzgi checkpoint, then broke through to Poland, but was caught by border guards and returned back to Belarus. The second attempt was made already on the border with Lithuania. It also ended in nothing. All bruises and abrasions, he refuses to return to his father in Iraq for a day and strives to flee to the border with Poland again, Rahmatullah complains. “I don’t know what to do with it. He doesn't want to go home, but I can't take him with me, he doesn't have any documents! He doesn't understand this, but it's time for me to go back. While we are staying at the hotel, I rented a room for us, but I don’t know what will happen next, ”,“ & mdash; he said.

Bed for the poor, hotels for the rich

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

Hotels in which migrants live are located near the shopping center & mdash; this explains their accumulation near this building. Three-star hotel “ Yubileiny '' located within walking distance. When the RBC correspondent drew level with the entrance to the hotel, a family with two teenage children came out of it, accompanied by a woman of Slavic appearance. There were also men in the lobby, women and children standing by the elevators leading to the rooms. In another budget hotel, Planet there were only men on the first floor & mdash; immigrants from the Middle East. There were more than ten of them in the lobby. Someone stood at the bar, others sat on sofas. A couple more people were drinking coffee in a small coffee shop inside the building. Here, a security guard was closely watching the entrance, ready to get up if he saw strangers.

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

As several residents of neighboring houses told RBC, the apartments in them also became convert for the reception of migrants. At the same time, about 25-30 people live in different apartments in the house, but they often change. “ Minsk is unrecognizable. Neighbors do not recognize. Where did they all come from? '' & Mdash; complained one of the interlocutors. Another expressed the opinion that accepting migrants has become a profitable business and those who are able to rent out their apartment take advantage of this opportunity.

Photo: Veronika Vishnyakova/RBC

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