Around 400 Kurdish, Iraqi migrants flown back to Erbil from Belarus: authorities

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Around 400 migrants from the Kurdistan Region and Iraq that had hoped to cross into EU-member Poland from Belarus left Minsk on Tuesday, according to authorities.

An Iraqi Airways flight departed Minsk National Airport for Erbil at 11:07 GMT, AFP cited the airport as saying.

A total of 417 passengers, including two small children, had registered for the flight, AFP reported.

More than 3,000 Iraqi and Kurdish migrants have been flown back since repatriation flights began in mid-November from the ex-Soviet state, with many showing injuries from the freezing cold.

Several thousand more migrants remain in Belarus, including at a logistics center at the Bruzgi checkpoint of the Belarusian-Poland border, according to AFP.

The West has accused Belarus of purposefully luring migrants — mostly from the Middle East — to the EU’s border as revenge for sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

Belarus has denied the claim and criticised the EU for not taking in the migrants.

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