Lebanon Imposes Curbs on Traveling to Belarus

By Asharq Al-Awsat
Passengers wait with their belongings at a hall at Beirut international airport in Beirut, Lebanon November 12, 2021. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Lebanon instructed airlines to limit passengers traveling to Belarus to those having visas, residency permits or Belarusian citizenship, according to a statement by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation seen by Reuters on Thursday.

"Many Arab and foreign travelers have recently arrived in Belarus from Beirut via flights of various airlines," including Belarus's state-run Belavia airline, the transport ministry's directorate general of civil aviation said.

"It was later discovered that the purpose of their travel was to move to the border with Poland" and enter European Union territories, "in cooperation with smuggling networks", it said in a statement.

It said the measures were effective immediately until further notice.

European countries accuse Minsk of flying in thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, and pushing them to cross the border illegally, as a tactic to punish Europe for sanctions imposed over a Belarusian crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and his main ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin, have rejected the accusations and criticized the EU for not taking in the migrants.

Turkish Airlines has banned Iraqis, Syrians and Yemenis from flying to Belarus via Turkey, while private Syrian carrier Cham Wings Airlines said it was halting flights to Minsk.

Belarus's Belavia airline has also said that Syrians, Iraqis, Yemenis and Afghans are banned from flights from the United Arab Emirates, while Iraq is planning a repatriation flight from Belarus on Thursday for at least 200 its nationals stuck on the border.

The number of flights between Beirut and Minsk has also been cut back recently.

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