MINSK, 16 September (BelTA) – Under the instruction of Aleksandr Lukashenko, the Belarusian government continues helping the stranded Hasidic Jewish pilgrims, Belarus Deputy Prime Minister Igor Petrishenko said as he met with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Israel to Belarus Alon Shoham, BelTA has learned.
There are a total of 2,558 Hasidic pilgrims in Belarus, 1,200 of whom are in districts close to the Ukrainian border, who sought to enter Ukraine in order to celebrate the New Year on 19 September according to the Jewish calendar. Most of the pilgrims are in Gomel Oblast and the city of Pinsk. The Ukrainian government extended the entry ban for foreign citizens and stateless persons to Ukraine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Ukrainian border service currently denies entry to foreigners who travel individually or in groups. Igor Petrishenko and Alon Shoham discussed this situation and measures taken by Belarus and Israel to handle it.
“We are ready to provide the necessary assistance to the Israeli nationals,” Igor Petrishenko said. He noted that they are provided with all the amenities. The sanitary and epidemiological situation at the sites of temporary accommodation is under control. If needed, Belarus will provide COVID-19 tests that use the polymerase chain reaction method and buses to take the pilgrims to Ukraine and back.
The Belarusian president gave an instruction to the government to come to an agreement with Ukraine on arranging a green corridor for the Hasidic Jewish pilgrims. “We are actively working with the Ukrainian side. We are doing everything within our power to help the pilgrims in their endeavor to visit their holy sites,” the deputy prime minister stressed. Ukraine is currently considering Belarus' proposals.
Ambassador Alon Shoham thanked Belarus for help.
Photos by Sergei Kholodilin