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Monday, November 29, 2021

Migrants return from Minsk to Iraq. Recorded from the Baghdad airport

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A group of Iraqi migrants flew in on an evacuation flight from Minsk to Baghdad on Thursday evening. The Iraqis were still wearing winter jackets and backpacks that they took with them on their trip to Europe. They spent weeks in Belarus trying to get into the European Union. Earlier on Thursday, an Iraqi Airways plane landed at the airport in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan – Erbil.

There is a migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border, triggered in the unanimous opinion of the West by the authorities in Minsk, accused of waging a hybrid war. Poland and other EU member states claim that this is Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s retaliation for sanctions against Belarus for violating human rights.


The Belarusian authorities not only make it easier for the inhabitants of the Middle East to get to Europe, but also organize flights for them. In November, the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border deteriorated significantly with the arrival of a large group of migrants near the border crossing in Kuźnica. Most of the migrants trying to get to Poland are citizens of Iraq.

Migrants return home

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Now hundreds of migrants who have failed to cross the EU’s heavily guarded eastern border are returning home with the help of the Iraqi government. The Iraqis who landed in Baghdad on Thursday told Reuters about the extremely difficult living conditions in the winter forest, often with young children by their side, and about violence.

– I spent ten days in the woods. Before I got sick, it was very hard, my body was exhausted. Some people were pushing us away [od granicy – red.]others told us to go, they transferred us to Lithuania. I was completely alone, so I came back, says 23-year-old Iraqi Majid Hassan as he walks the arrivals hall at the Baghdad airport.

32-year-old Arsed Mehdi sums up his unsuccessful trip to Europe in two words: “a lot of suffering”. – The Belarusian army tells you that they will take you to Poland, but that they will take you to Lithuania instead. They take your sim card, leave you in the woods and tell you to go. Live or die, that’s your problem. They took our water and left us in the forest – says Mehdi in an interview with the Reuters agency. He added that he spent three days in the forest. – We didn’t know if we could go back to town or not. We really suffered a lot – he admits.

Migrants from Iraq at the airport in Minsk are waiting for a return flight to the countryReuters

Return flights to Iraq

On Thursday evening An Iraqi Airways plane has landed at the airport in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan – Erbil. There were 431 migrants on board, who had previously been stuck on the border between Poland and Belarus, and declared their will to return to the country. Most of the passengers who disembarked from the Boeing 747 in Irbil are residents of the region. As reported by the AFP agency, the others were to fly to Baghdad shortly.

The Iraqi government-organized flight from Minsk was free, and some passengers covered their faces to avoid appearing in live broadcasts of local television. Many carried their personal belongings in backpacks or plastic bags.

– I spent more than $ 4,000 to come to Belarus – lamented one of the passengers. He did not want to give a name. “The situation was very difficult there, we had to eat grass and tree leaves, it was cold,” said AFP. He explained that “smugglers force migrants to cross the border, demanding payment between $ 6,000 and $ 7,000,” but that “it is difficult for those with families to get through.” A resident of the Sinjar region in the north of Iraq says that “the situation there (in Belarus – ed.) Was difficult, but it is worse here”. – Here (in Iraq – ed.) The conditions are very difficult, this pushed us to emigrate – he added.

More countries and airlines limit tourist flights to Belarus for citizens of Iraq, Syria and other Middle East countries. On Thursday, the Belarusian state agency BiełTA informed that Belarusian Belavia will suspend flight permits for citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Syria and Yemen to Minsk from the airport in Uzbek Tashkent.

Migration crisis on the border with Belarus

From the beginning of the year, the Polish Border Guard recorded over 33 thousand. attempts to illegally cross the border with Belarus, of which 5.5 thousand in November, nearly 17.3 thousand. in October, almost 7.7 thous. in September and over 3.5 thousand. in August.

Since September 2, due to the migratory pressure in the border zone with Belarus, 183 localities in the Podlaskie and Lubelskie voivodships have been under a state of emergency. It was introduced for 30 days under the ordinance of President Andrzej Duda, issued at the request of the Council of Ministers. The Seym agreed to extend the state of emergency for another 60 days.

By the middle of next year, a steel fence with barbed wire and electronic devices will be erected on the border with Belarus. The dam, 180 km long and 5.5 m high, will be built in Podlasie. Along the border, motion sensors as well as day and night cameras will be installed. The Bug River is a natural dam in the Lublin region.

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