Poland says Belarus makes huge profits from migration crisis on border
A senior Polish security official has accused the Belarusian government of earning millions of dollars from sending hundreds of migrants into Poland.
Poland has been struggling to stem the flow of Middle Eastern and African migrants crossing into Poland from Belarus. The Polish government says the migrants have been invited to Belarus by Alexander Lukashenko, the country's president, allegedly under the promise they will be able to live in the EU.
Around 682 people tried to illegally enter Poland by crossing the Polish-Belarusian border on Thursday alone, Polish Border Guard officers reported.
Stanislaw Zaryn, the spokesman for the special services coordinator, said that the migration route generated huge profits to Belarusian state institutions, among others.
According to Zaryn, migrants pay, depending on the route, from USD 2,000 to 14,000 per person for help in crossing the border illegally. "These revenues... should be treated as revenues for Alexander Lukashenko's regime," he said.
Zaryn said that the revenues should be estimated at tens of millions of dollars that "went to various entities that take part in this migration route, but most of it went to the Belarusian state, because these institutions control and organise the whole process of people smuggling," he added.
Zaryn also said that, based on the collected data, the security services are able to identify several institutions that derive profits from the illegal migration route, including the airport in Minsk and the Belarusian airlines Belavia, whose flights were banned on the territory of the European Union, and is on the verge of bankruptcy thus looking for new ways to improve its financial situation.
Zaryn added that Lukashenko's administration also supervises Centrkurort travel agency "...a company that issues invitations to migrants that are necessary to initiate a migration route and a flight to Belarus," he said.
Other institutions that profit from the migration practice, according to Zaryn, are law enforcement agencies, including the State Border Committee of the Republic of Belarus, which "takes direct part in transporting migrants to the border area," and the State Security Committee of the Republic of Belarus (Belarusian KGB).