Belarus gave birth to numerous prominent scientists, scholars, artists, sportsmen, etc. who either migrated from Belarus themselves or were born in the families of migrants from Belarus. Among those are world famous painter Mark Chagall, first president of Israel Chaim Weizmann, famous airplane constructor Pavel Sukhoi, the first woman-cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, recent Nobel Prize laureate Jores Alferov, such well-known celebrities as American TV anchorman Larry King and hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky, and many others…
Migration is a prominent feature of globalization and one of the defining issues of the twenty first century. It entails economic, social, demographic, cultural, security and environmental effects on both sending and receiving societies. Formulation of effective and coherent approaches for the management of migration poses formidable challenges for the authorities and requires closer coordination and cooperation between numerous state and non-state actors at policy and operational levels. The need to address a wide range of migration issues including migration and development, integration of migrants, smuggling of and trafficking in persons, irregular migration and so on – often reflect the different migration agendas of governments even though the challenges they face may be similar in nature.
Belarus is not an exception. As a mid-income country, it has been both the source and destination for thousands of migrants yet increasing in numbers and geographic coverage. Despite the recent economic downturns more and more migrants from other CIS countries, China, countries of Middle East, Central and East Asia and even from Africa chose Belarus as a destination point. At the same time tens of thousands Belarusian citizens leave the country to seek employment opportunities abroad, particularly in the Russian Federation and EU countries. Therefore, ensuring safe movement of migrants to and from Belarus is of critical importance to this nation.
In addition, due to its strategic geographical location, between EU and CIS and in no small part owing to its open borders with RF, Belarus is increasingly becoming a ‘stable’ transit route for irregular migrants moving westward in search of a better life. It poses serious challenges for the country’s migration and border management systems in such areas as interception, reception or detention, care and services, registration and return. As in other Eastern European countries, trafficking in persons, both women and men, to RF, Middle East, and EU countries is also a major challenge for Belarus.
The Government of Belarus has demonstrated commitment and made visible efforts to counteract irregular migration, trafficking in human beings and related crimes. However, considerable migration challenges persist and additional efforts and more support are needed to address these and other emerging migration issues facing the country. In partnership with governmental institutions, international and nongovernmental organizations, IOM strives to help the Belarusian Government identify and address main migration priorities. To this end, and in the spirit of the IOM motto, “Migration for the Benefit of All,” the IOM Mission in Belarus continuously supports dialogue and consultations with governmental and international partners to adopt programmes aimed at addressing growing and diverse migration challenges of the country.
Thus, IOM takes the lead in Belarus in combating the trafficking of human beings, and has projects to enhance the capacity of the national governmental and civil society partners to prevent trafficking in persons, prosecute and judge human traffickers and protect victims. In another area, IOM continues to work closely with the Government of Belarus to strengthen its border management procedures and capabilities in line with best international practices. Applying a regional approach to its programming, IOM supports also the strengthening of institutional and operational ties between the migration and border services of Belarus and the neighboring Ukraine. Another area of IOM operations in the country is the facilitation of assisted voluntary return of Belarusian citizens stranded abroad or voluntary return of third country nationals stranded in Belarus to their home countries.
This is not a complete list of IOM operations in Belarus. Explore this website for more information on IOM’s ongoing programmes and initiatives here.
Chief of Mission, IOM Belarus