Hundreds of Hasidic Jewish pilgrims who’ve been ready for days on the Ukraine-Belarus border have returned residence Friday after an entry ban on foreigners was upheld as a consequence of a rise in coronavirus infections. 

Ukrainian authorities estimate that 2,000 folks in complete had been gathered on the border this week, hoping to proceed to the central Ukrainian metropolis of Uman and go to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman, the founding father of the Breslov Hasidic motion.

Thousands of the ultra-Orthodox Jews go to Uman yearly in September for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana. 

Ukrainian border guard spokesman Andriy Demchenko instructed AFP Friday that the majority pilgrims had returned to Belarus and solely “a few pilgrims” hoping to enter Ukraine remained on the crossing level.

Jewish pilgrims, who plan to enter Ukraine from the territory of Belarus, relaxation in a impartial zone

Thousands of Israeli Hasidic Jews arrive in Ukraine each year to take part in festive events on the occasion of Rosh Hashanah

Why were the pilgrims stuck?

The pilgrims’ departure comes after a Ukrainian Interior Ministry official, Mykhailo Apostol, reaffirmed Thursday that pilgrims would not be allowed to cross the border. 

“Ukraine has shut its borders to foreigners, and no exclusions can be made for the Hasidic pilgrims,” Apostol told reporters.

“It’s getting colder and we propose that they return to Belarus, purchase tickets and go residence.”

The pilgrims, primarily coming from Israel, France and the US, had departed for Uman this yr regardless of warnings from each the Israeli and Ukrainian governments to not travel as a result of pandemic. 

The teams have spent days within the boundary zone between Belarus and Ukraine, with some sleeping in makeshift tents and others on the bottom.

Ukraine's border service head Serhiy Deineko speaks with Jewish pilgrims

Ukrainian and Israeli governments issued a joint statement earlier this year asking pilgrims to cancel their trip because of coronavirus

Tensions between Ukraine and Belarus 

The back-up at the border has exacerbated tensions between Kiev and Minsk, following Belarus’ disputed presidential election, and reports that Belarusian security forces were deporting dissidents. 

Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday accused Belarus of giving the pilgrims false hope, saying they had “believed rumors” about getting into Ukraine regardless of strict coronavirus travel restrictions.

Ukraine has closed its borders for many of September, citing rising coronavirus infections. The Hasidic pilgrims had tried to bypass the entry restrictions by touring by Belarus.

wmr/rt (AFP, AP)