UAE curbs flights to Belarus amid migrant crisis

Polish border guard officers stand guard next to a group of migrants stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland near the village of Usnarz Gorny, Poland September 1, 2021. (Reuters photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The United Arab Emirates has barred Afghan, Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi citizens from flights to Minsk on Monday that the European Union says were used to fly in migrants by the thousands to engineer a humanitarian crisis on its frontier.

Belarusian state-owned carrier Belavia said in a notice that the UAE cabinet’s decision was issued on Sunday, according to Reuters.

Thousands of migrants from the Middle East are sheltering in freezing conditions in the woods on the border between Belarus and EU states Poland and Lithuania, which are refusing to let them cross. Some have died and there are fears for the safety of the rest in bitter winter conditions.

Hundreds of people from the Kurdistan Region are stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland, hoping to reach Germany.

About 3,000 Kurds have left the region in the past three months, of whom 1,600 have gone to Belarus on tourist visas, according to the Kurdistan Refugee Association.

The Belarusian honorary consul in Erbil, Fouad Mamend, told AFP that they were using travel agencies to obtain tourist visas and plane tickets.

Several Kurdish people have died on the border of Belarus.

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