Disinfo: Migrants on Polish border were able to enter Belarus thanks to the visa-free regime

Summary

The ongoing, well-organised influx into Belarus of migrants from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and other countries in the region was made possible thanks to the visa-free agreement between Minsk and the above-mentioned states.

Disproof

The claim advances a disinformation narrative regarding the migration situation on the EU-Belarus border.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry explicitly states that none of the states mentioned in the claim have a visa-free agreement with Belarus. Moreover, many migrants have been issued tourist visas upon arrival at Minsk airport.

In 2021, LithuaniaPoland and Latvia faced an influx of irregular migrants from Belarus. Earlier, Belarus had ended cooperation with the EU to stem illegal migration. This was Lukashenka's answer to the European Union sanctions on the political regime of Belarus (read more about sanctions here).

Several investigative journalists (here) and (here) have proven that some migrants arrive in Belarus by commercial flights from Baghdad to Minsk. Information gathered also suggests that migrants are regularly transported by bus to the Belarusian-Lithuanian border. More information about Lukashenka's role in the organisation of the current migration crisis can be found here and here.

The European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has stated that the situation on the EU-Belarus border is "the attempt of an authoritarian regime to try to destabilise its democratic neighbours". Similarly, High Representative Borrell has highlighted that the Lukashenka regime is weaponising human beings as a tool for political purposes by giving migrants false expectations and putting them in a situation of extreme vulnerability.

On 15 November 2021, the EU broadened the scope for sanctions to tackle hybrid attacks and instrumentalisation of migrants. The EU will now be able to target individuals and entities organising or contributing to activities by the Lukashenka regime that facilitate the illegal crossing of the EU's external borders.

See related examples of disinformation claims about migration here.