GOMEL, 15 September (BelTA) – Over 800 Hasidic Jews on a pilgrimage are stuck in the no man's land between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine, BelTA learned from Aleksei Dyubenkov, a spokesman of the Gomel branch of the State Border Committee of Belarus.
Aleksei Dyubenkov said that the Ukrainian side had informed the Belarusian side that no citizens or vehicles are allowed to cross the Belarusian-Ukrainian border via the border checkpoint Novyye Yarilovichi as of 20:00 on 14 September. The official noted that the border checkpoint may have been closed due to the Ukrainian government's decision to extend the prohibition against the entry of foreign citizens and stateless persons to Ukraine till 29 September. About 800 Hasidic Jews, who are travelling to Ukraine in order to celebrate the New Year on 19 September according to the Jewish calendar, are stuck between the Belarusian border checkpoint Novaya Guta and the Ukrainian border checkpoint Novyye Yarilovichi. The Belarusian border service has taken all the possible measures to allow any of them to return to Belarus fast and in comfort.
There were 505 people in the no man's land as of 20:00 on 14 September, 735 people as of 6:30 on 15 September, and over 800 as of 11:30. More pilgrims willing to celebrate the traditional holiday in the Ukrainian city of Uman are arriving. They travel as single individuals, as groups, and as families.
A field camp full of pilgrims, who still hope to cross the Ukrainian border in order to celebrate the holiday, has been set up in the no man's land.
The Belarusian border service and the Red Cross are doing what they can to help the pilgrims. They give out drinking water and blankets since there are many women and children among the pilgrims.
Communications has been established between the border services of Belarus and Ukraine. If any changes happen or the Ukrainian side makes some decisions, the Belarusian border service will be promptly notified.