Turkmen students in Belarus digging tunnels under Polish border to smuggle migrants: report

Source: Polish Border Guard.
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
2 Min Read

Male and female Turkmen students are illegally moving people from countries such as Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Afghanistan and others through Belarus into Poland, according to news reports. The students from Turkmenistan are accused of digging tunnels under barriers along the Poland-Belarus border to secretly transport the migrants.

Once in Poland, these migrants often move onward to other Western European nations.

Citing the Netherlands-based platform Turkmen.news, independent Belarusian outlet Nasha Niva describes in detail what the process of smuggling migrants looks like.

The students’ smuggling operation appears to be sophisticated. They reportedly drive groups of foreigners to the Polish border, help them cross by digging under the iron barriers, and then transfer them to vehicles waiting on the other side. Proof of their endeavors is captured in photos they take of the individuals they assist. Upon completion, they return to cities like Minsk or Brest and receive payments ranging from $3,000 to $4,000, issued by a Kurdish ringleader.

According to Turkmen.news, the majority of Turkmen students in Belarus and other countries often engage in unauthorized work, as their visas do not permit employment. Due to strict financial restrictions in Turkmenistan limiting the money parents can send to their studying children abroad, students frequently find themselves resorting to undesirable and tough jobs, sometimes causing them to miss classes. In this case, the group of students is accused of venturing into the human trafficking business.

Over 8,000 students from Turkmenistan study at Belarusian higher education institutions. Turkmenistan, a Central Asian nation formed after the Soviet Union’s collapse, is considered one of the world’s most repressive regimes, where freedom of speech and civil liberties are severely suppressed.

The Turkmen.news platform is operated by Turkmen refugees and is based in the Netherlands.

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