Iraq repatriated over 3,550 Iraqis, Kurds from Belarus: ministry

Kurdish migrants arrive to the airport in Erbil, November 26, 2021. (AP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq has repatriated more than 3,550 Iraqis and Kurds stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland, a spokesman for the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

In a statement, Ahmed al-Sahaf said the federal government had evacuated 3,556 migrants from Minsk via nine flights since last month, state news agency reported.

He further said 383 “transit passports” were issued to the Iraqis and Kurds who lost their passports in Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

“The ministry’s efforts continue to support voluntary return of Iraqi migrants,” he was quoted as saying.

Iraqis and Kurds who fled seeking economic opportunity and in some cases political asylum began returning to their country in mid-November having failed to get into the EU via Belarus.

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 criticized the EU for not taking in the migrants.

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