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Ukraine bars entry to 1,000 Jewish pilgrims over virus

Ukraine bars entry to 1,000 Jewish pilgrims over virus
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Kyiv: More than one thousand Hasidic Jewish pilgrims including children were massed at the Ukraine-Belarus border on Wednesday after Kiev denied them entry due to Coronavirus restrictions, the two countries said.

Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews travel every Jewish New Year to the central Ukrainian town of Uman to visit the tomb of Rabbi Nahman, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.

This year the Jewish New Year is celebrated September 18-20. The pilgrims set off this year even though both the Ukrainian and Israeli governments last month called on Hasidic Jews not to travel to Uman, a town of 80,000 people.

Kiev has banned foreigners from entering the country until late September due to a spike in Coronavirus infections.

A Ukrainian border guard spokesman, Andriy Demchenko, said "there are around 1,000 people" at the border crossing point.

The Belarus border guard service said 1,064 people had attempted to cross since Monday, including 242 children.

It said it was providing food and warm tents, while pilgrims have complained of being left cold and hungry in the open-air. The pilgrims are currently stuck between the Ukrainian and Belarusian border crossings after Minsk allowed them to pass.

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