Today the press conference devoted to the situation with refugees in the world as well as in the Republic of Belarus took place Komsomolskaya Pravda v Belorussii». V. Shadurski, Chairman of the INA «Evolutio» Observation Board, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations of Belarus, Aleksey Begun, Head of the Department on Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus, and Jean Yves Bouchardy, UNHCR Representative in the Republic of Belarus, were invited to participate in the event as experts in the area under discussion.
V. Shadurski took the floor the first. He noted that for journalists it is extraordinary important to use terminology and not to equate in their reports such terms as «forced migrants», «refugee», «labour migrants», «asylum» and some other, as far as this equal sign is false and it may confuse the readers. Than he noted that there are four contradictions which, anyway, stimulate migration: the economic growth and inequality between countries in terms of economic development, moral and worldviews of peoples, as well as the human factor. All these might be given on the example of the current situation in Europe, when some countries welcome and assist refugees, while the others tend to be of a chauvinist and nationalist nature. It was also noted that the Republic of Belarus still remains the transit country for many migrants on their way to the EU. In this sense for Belarus it is now relevant to improve the legislative base, which should be functioning both on the permanent basis in stable conditions, but also in case of turbulence, nonstandard cases, i.e. mass migration flows. The main thing for our country is to move forward in a right direction.
A. Begun paid attention to the fact that due to its geographical position (the Republic of Belarus borders on three EU countries) Belarus for many migrants is the transit country. Nevertheless, for migrants from several countries, for example, Ukraine, it may become the destination country. He provided the statistics of asylum applications: as of October 1, 2015 943 asylum applications have already been submitted (while within the whole 2014 there were 868 asylum applications in total). A. Begun also made a prognosis that till the end of the year the number of asylum applications will reach one thousand. Migration flows have become a particular challenge for Belarus: it is necessary to find more effective and operative ways of the state bodies’ activities for provision of fast refugee determination procedure as well as mobilize significant financial resources to provide the assistance to everyone who need it. A. Begun stressed that Belarus is a unique country among the CIS which implements the programme of targeted resettlement of refugees, and currently hosts 14 citizens of Syria within this programme. In the end, A. Begun noted that there is a unique story, a unique fate beyond every refugee. The world will never be same and won’t return to the state in which it was at least three years ago.
Within the framework of the discussion some questions were addressed to Jean Yves Bouchardy. Answering to the question on the possibilities to solve the European crisis with refugees, he said that in general this is the problem of mixed migration flows, as far as persons arriving in Europe are not only asylum seekers from Syria fleeing from possible persecution but also persons who have already received refugee status and those who simply wish to find better living conditions in the countries of Western Europe. Jean Yves Bouchardy told that the reasons for the crisis and the current situation with refugees are deep, but mainly two factors influence this phenomenon: protracted five-year conflict in Syria which provoked mass migration, firstly, to neighboring countries; people who fled from the conflict and for a long time were staying in refugee camps without proper living conditions during the long period of time, they start searching for solution and ways out in the countries of Western Europe. Commenting on the European crisis, he also noted that refugees are the common problem, and there must be joint efforts to solve it.
As V. Shadurski added, the mass influx of migrants from the countries of Northern Africa and the Middle East are currently influenced by improved means of communication, including connection between people by means of contemporary telecommunication facilities. Migrants fleeing from persecution, as a rule, contact members of their families, friends, transmitting information on where it is possible to arrange life better in a new place.
In the course of the fruitful discussion relevant questions on the refugee issues both for the international community and the Republic of Belarus were touched upon. All experts could provide detailed answers.
Read the press conference materials in one of the next issues of the «Komsomolskaya Pravda». The materials will be placed on our web-site.