EU to Sanction Transport Operators Smuggling Migrants Via Belarus

The European Union has come forward with a proposal to sanction transport operators involved in smuggling people into the 27-nation-bloc. The proposal came in a bid to support the Member States affected by hybrid attacks, in addition to also offering other humanitarian assistance.

According to a press release issued by the European Commission, the latter and the High Representative proposed measures to prevent activities of transport operators involved in smuggling or trafficking people into the EU, reports.

“We are presenting a new proposal to blacklist transport operators involved in smuggling or trafficking of people into the EU, as I first announced two weeks ago. We will never accept the exploitation of human beings for political purposes,” President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said.

>> EU to Impose New Framework for Belarus Sanctions to Halt Instrumentalisation of Migrants

Measures introduced would be determined depending on the case. The type of measures could include the restriction of operations in the Union market, discontinuing the validity of licenses or authorisations, the suspension of the rights to refuel or carry out maintenance within the EU, and banning transit or flying over the EU or making technical stops or calls into EU ports.

The recent events at the EU’s border with Belarus, which includes countries like Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, could not occur without transport operators contributing to worsening the situation as numerous people lost their lives in an attempt of crossing the borders illegally, in addition to several of immigrants being stuck at borders and rapidly increasing immigration rates in the 27-nation-bloc. Such a situation has caused the EU to risk the security and stability in the region.

Earlier this month, the European Council announced that the visa facilitation agreement for Belarus officials serving Lukashenko’s regime would be temporarily suspended due to the ongoing migration situation invited by the Belarus government.

However, this decision does not affect Belarus citizens as they will continue to take advantage of the same benefits under this agreement, initially announced in July 2020.

Frontex, the EU’s agency border control, has recently shared that the Eastern Land Border, including the border between Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus, has been the most affected by illegal migratory movement, with an increase of 1444 per cent compared to the same time last year. Moreover, the number of illegal passages so far this year is 8,000.

Other routes had higher rates of illegalities, with Central Mediterranean leading (55,000) with 91 per cent, followed by the Western Balkan route with a 140 per cent increase (48,500) and with the Eastern Mediterranean route marking a drop of 11 per cent (15,770) in such activity.

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