The Government of Belarus allows all refugees from Ukraine to access Belarusian territory and asylum procedures if they wish to seek protection. Foreigners fleeing the conflict in Ukraine and traveling to their countries of permanent residence are allowed to enter, transit and exit Belarus visa-free. All COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted at border crossing points with Ukraine and no PCR test is needed.
Starting from the second half of April, only few refugees crossed the border directly from Ukraine.
Most refugees transit through the EU, mostly through Poland, and self-accommodate with relatives or friends. Others are supported by the local authorities with identifying accommodation and employment opportunities. The Government leads the response to the Ukraine refugee situation in Belarus, with the Belarusian Red Cross Society (BRCS) being the recognized channel of international aid delivery and distribution. An inter-agency Refugee Coordination Forum (RCF) led by UNHCR has been established at country level to complement the Government’s efforts.
As of December 2021, Belarus was host to 2,732 refugees and 128 asylum-seekers. Amongst those, 2,378 refugees and 14 asylum-seekers were Ukrainian nationals, most of whom arrived in Belarus due to conflict that had erupted in the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in 2014. Asylum-seekers and refugees also come from other countries of origin, such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq.
A total of 26,856 refugees from Ukraine have crossed the border to Belarus from 24 February to 10 May. 244 persons are third country nationals (including from Azerbaijan,
Georgia, Israel, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan,
USA). Valid ID documents or international passports are not required for persons seeking protection in Belarus. 10,446 persons have transited through EU countries before entering Belarus.
Since 24 February and as of 10 May, a total of 6,021 Ukrainians have registered with the Ministry of Interior (MOI) for a legal status in Belarus. 3,828 Ukrainians are in the records of the MOI’s Department on Citizenship and Migration (DCM) as persons with permits for temporary stay up to three months. 631 persons have applied for asylum in Belarus. 1,143 have applied for 1-year temporary residence permits. 419 have applied for permanent residence permits.
The temporary accommodation facilities (TAFs), where refugees from Ukraine were sheltered during the first two months of the crisis, have been vacated because the sanatoria will be needed for commercial purposes for the tourist season. Refugees who were temporarily accommodated at the TAFs are assisted by the BRCS and local authorities in identifying employment with accommodation opportunities or other private accommodation.
Most refugees arriving in Belarus come from the regions around Kyiv and Chernihiv. Groups of people at heightened risk include women; female-headed households; children, especially unaccompanied and separated children (UASC); elderly; people with disabilities; and people in need of medical support. The number of people fleeing from Ukraine to Belarus is relatively small compared to other neighbouring countries.
However, the Government and RRP partners need to be prepared for an increase in arrival numbers as the crisis in Ukraine unfolds in an unpredictable manner and Ukrainians continue to arrive increasingly through EU countries.