MINSK, January 27. /TASS/. About 1,000 citizens of Ukraine applied for refugee status or additional protection in Belarus last year, the Belarusian Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
"The total number of Ukrainian citizens applying for protection amounts to 978 or 78.5% of the total number of applicants. As in 2014, they are the largest group of forced migrants applying for protection," the ministry said.
According to it, a total of 1,246 foreigners applied to the competent authorities last year, a 43.5-percent increase compared to the number of forced migrants who arrived in Belarus in 2014. The Belarusian Interior Ministry said the number of forced migrants to Belarus from Syria and Afghanistan grew too, and citizens of Iraq and Yemen applied for protection for the first time.
More than 6,000 applications for refugee status or additional protection in Belarus have been filed by foreigners since the passing of the first law on forced migration in the country in 1995.
A source in the Belarusian Interior Ministry told TASS that additional protection in Belarus is granted to foreign citizens who are in the country and who have no grounds to be granted refugee status but have well-founded fear to face the threat of prosecution or danger to life after returning home. The additional protection makes it possible for immigrants to find a job and get free health care on a par with foreign nationals permanently residing in Belarus.