To Belarus and Beyond – Understanding migration plans of Kurdish migrants travelling the Belarus route

In the summer of 2021, thousands of migrants from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) reached Belarus, attempting to cross into Poland. Seefar, having worked in KRI for many years, responded quickly to provide up to date information and gather insights about the emerging border crisis. 

Throughout December 2021, Seefar conducted 571 quantitative interviews and 36 in-depth interviews with Kurdish potential migrants, transit migrants and returnees. We also spoke to members of the Kurdish parliament, NGOs and legal experts.

Our key findings from that study show:

  • Belarus was the most logical choice among (potential) migrants when weighing available irregular migration options. For most Kurdish migrants, arriving in Belarus meant reaching Europe legally and avoiding more expensive, risky and time-consuming irregular migration journeys.
  • There were lots of incomplete and false stories shared on social media. For example, most of our respondents believed that Europe was granting asylum to Kurdish migrants in Belarus.
  • Knowledge of realities en route remained low among respondents, even towards the end of December, due to the few information sources migrants relied on. Information was primarily passed outside official channels, through TikTok accounts, Telegram chats, and Facebook groups. 

The research shows the need to counterbalance rumours and inaccurate information on social media channels by providing essential and quick-to-grasp facts and information.

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