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Some 1,000 Jewish pilgrims remain on Belarus-Ukraine border


GOMEL, 16 September (BelTA) - Some 1,000 Hasidic pilgrims remain in the neutral zone between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine, BelTA learned from official representative of the Gomel Border Service Aleksei Dyubenkov.

Pilgrims continue coming to the Novaya Guta border checkpoint. The Belarusian checkpoint works as usual. The Ukrainian one has not resumed its operation yet.

Hundreds of Hasidic Jews, who are traveling to the holy place in the Ukrainian city of Uman, continue gathering in the neutral zone between the Belarusian and Ukrainian checkpoints. No incidents were registered during the previous night, the official representative said.The emergencies unit of Gomel Oblast deployed 10 tent modules with cannons for heating. Drinking water is also supplied. Children and women have been accommodated in buses provided by the Gomel Oblast bus park. Employees and volunteers of the Gomel Oblast Organization of the Belarusian Red Cross are on duty 24/7.

“Local rabbis also brought blankets at night,” said the official representative of the Gomel Border Service.According to the State Border Committee, a total of 1,064 Israeli citizens went through the Novaya Guta checkpoint of Belarus between 14 and 16 September, including 68 children under 12 and 174 teenagers aged 12 to 18.

Some 109 Israeli citizens went through the Mokhro checkpoint on the Belarusian border on 15 September. At night, the entire group returned to Belarus after they were denied entry to Ukraine.

Ukraine has restricted entry to foreigners and vehicles via the Novi Yarylovychi checkpoint at the Belarusian-Ukrainian border on 14 September. Hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims are found themselves stranded between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine. They were on their way to Ukraine to celebrate the New Year on 19 September according to the Jewish calendar.

Pilgrims said that it is mainly men who travel during this period of time, while women stay home with their children. They explain it as elementary safety measures, because a lot of people gather in Uman during this period. Women visit holy places at other times of the year.

The situation is held under control. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has instructed the government to negotiate with Ukraine a green corridor for Hasidic Jewish pilgrims stuck between the borders of Belarus and Ukraine en route to a holy place in Ukraine.

Photos by Sergei Kholodilin

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