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Belarus wants to change the law in the event of a mass influx of refugees

Belarus is reconsidering its laws on immigration to determine the best possible way of accommodating the refugees that are beginning to arrive in the country in large numbers.

Belarus grants refugee status, additional or temporary protection and asylum for foreigners and stateless people. Alexander Tatura, the deputy head of the Department of Citizenship and Migration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has spoken to the media in relation to this matter.

Steps are being taken by the government agencies before refugees are able to integrate within the country. Such measures are the process of identification, mandatory finger printing and medical examination.

In June 2015, the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Belarus drew up a draft law on ‘ Introduction of changes and amendments to some laws of the Republic of Belarus on the issues of forced migration’. The goal is to improve the legislation of the country in this field, taking into account national interests and international instruments.

The bill requires the introduction of a set of procedures that should be put into place for filing out applications by foreigners for asylum, refugee status and those seeking protection in Belarus. The time it takes to consider an application should not exceed a period of 6 months. Also they want to bring some provisions of the law in line with the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees in this bill. Such provisions include defining the category of people not covered by international protection and the guarantees for non-refoulement which concerns the protection of refugees from being returned to places where their lives and freedom are threatened based on many factors. The provisions can also review the regulations related to adjusting the rights of foreigners with refugee status or those seeing asylum within the health and education sector in line with the rights of the citizens of Belarus.

Andrew Naumovich, the chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Human Rights, National Relations and Mass Media has noted that today comments and suggestions are being taken in regards to the draft law.

The number of people granted refugee status in Belarus during the last six months equals seven. Five of those refugees are from Afghanistan and the other two are from Lebanon and Syria respectively.

Moreover those claiming subsidiary protection status within the same period included 392 Ukrainians, 37 Syrians, 7 Libyans and 1 Lebanese. In comparison with last year there were- 284 Ukrainians, 28 Syrians and 7 people from Iraq.

In the last 6 months, 599 people have made an application for either refugee status or subsidiary protection.

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