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16 September 2020, 09:00

Lukashenko tells government to agree with Ukraine on green corridor for Jewish pilgrims

Natalya Eismont. An archive photo
Natalya Eismont. An archive photo

MINSK, 16 September (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has given an instruction to the government to come to an agreement with Ukraine on arranging a green corridor for Hasidic Jewish pilgrims stuck between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine en route to a holy place in Ukraine, Belarus president's spokesperson Natalya Eismont told reporters, BelTA has learned.

“The Belarusian president gave an instruction to our government to promptly get in touch with the Ukrainian government and agree on arranging a green corridor for Hasidic pilgrims. Belarus is ready to provide transportation, for example, buses to take these pilgrims to the final destination – the holy place in Ukraine – and back to the airport to fly home. Our country is ready to do it,” Natalya Eismont said.

“Naturally, the process will be organized in the safest way possible, so that it will have no impact on COVID-19 transmission rate,” the spokesperson said.

A reminder, about a thousand Hasidic Jewish pilgrims are stuck between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine. They were on their way to Ukraine to celebrate the New Year on 19 September according to the Jewish calendar. As no air travel between Israel and Ukraine is available, they were going to get to Ukraine through Belarus.

The Ukrainian side informed that no citizens or vehicles were allowed to cross the Belarusian-Ukrainian border via the border checkpoint Novyye Yarilovichi starting from 20:00 on 14 September. The checkpoint may have been closed due to the Ukrainian government's decision to extend the entry ban for foreign citizens and stateless persons to Ukraine till 29 September.

The pilgrims are now camping out in the neutral zone between the two borders hoping to cross the Ukrainian border and celebrate the holiday in the territory of Ukraine. The Belarusian border service, the Red Cross, public associations of Gomel Oblast and the Gomel Oblast Executive Committee provide the necessary support to the pilgrims among whom there are many women and little children. The situation is on the radar of the regional authorities and the Belarusian head of state.

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