Migrant crisis: EU sanctions Belarus airline, Cham Wings

EU imposes sanctions on Belarus airline, Syria's Cham Wings over migrant crisis
2 min read
04 December, 2021
The sanctions introduced on Thursday targeted 27 individuals and 11 entities, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.
The EU accuses Minsk of flying in migrants, mostly from the Middle East, and pushing them to illegally cross the Polish border [Getty]

The European Union this week enacted sanctions against Belarus’ national airline Belavia and Syria’s Cham Wings over the migrant crisis, which the continental body blames on Minsk.

The EU accuses it of flying in refugees, mostly from the Middle East, and pushing them to illegally cross the Polish border to manufacture a crisis, something Minsk denies.

The sanctions introduced on Thursday targeted 27 individuals and 11 entities, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.

Among the firms hit were Nitrogen fertiliser firm Grodno Azot and oil company Belarusneft. Belarusian border officials and judges were also among those targeted.

Belarus has slammed the measures, vowing a “tough response” on Friday.

“Tough, asymmetric, but appropriate measures will be taken by us exclusively as a response,” the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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Despite the defiant rhetoric, Belarusian authorities have begun returning hundreds of migrants on flights.

Minsk airport authorities announced on Saturday that a flight carrying hundreds of migrants would depart for Iraq on the same day.

Airport authorities said in a statement that a Boeing 747-400 would fly 415 adults and four children to Erbil, the capital of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region. The airport's website later listed the flight as having departed.

Iraqis who fled seeking economic opportunity and in some cases political asylum began returning to their country last month having failed to get into the EU via a route that people smugglers promised them would work.