Hundreds of Iraqi, Kurdish families without water, food on Belarus border: watchdog

Migrants are seen through fences as they sit on the ground in a camp near the border town of Kapciamiestis, Lithuania, on July 18, 2021. (AFP photo)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Hundreds of Iraqi and Kurdish families are without water and foods on Belarus border, a refugee watchdog said on Sunday.

Hundreds of Iraqis and Kurds have traveled to Minsk in the past months, aiming to reach European countries via the border between Belarus, Lithuania and Poland.

Head of Lutka Foundation for Refugee and Displaced Affairs Ari Jalal said the families had been stuck on the Belarusian border.

“They are without water and foods,” Jalal said in a statement, noting that several other migrants had died of hunger and due to cold weather.

“Using Belarus to reach to European countries is dangerous, and it has become more dangerous due to the cold weather,” he added.

He further said the foundation was working with the Iraqi foreign ministry and the civil aviation to repatriate the families who are stranded on the border.

Several Iraqi migrants died in the border area between Belarus and Poland as they were trying to enter Poland.

Poland, Lithuania and the EU have accused Belarus of encouraging migrants, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, to cross the borders as a form of pressure on the bloc over sanctions Brussels has imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses.

The Polish Border Guard reported more than 3,500 attempts to cross the border illegally from Belarus in August. As of Sept. 24, more than 5,000 attempts had been recorded since the start of September.

In August, Iraq suspended flights to Belarus after the EU accused Minsk of encouraging unauthorized arrivals of mainly Iraqi migrants in retaliation against EU sanctions.

Despite the suspension, Iraqis still travel to Belarus using transit flights from other countries.

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