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Hundreds of Iraqis who camped for weeks on the border of Belarus with the EU, trying to get to Poland, have returned to Iraq

Read: 206     12:30     22 Ноябрь 2021    

About 430 potential migrants, mostly Iraqi Kurds and several dozen Yazidis landed in Erbil in the autonomous northern Kurdistan region of Iraq. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the plane took off again to Baghdad, where it will send other repatriates.
The migrants, among them young children, disembarked and headed through the arrival hall of Erbil, carrying suitcases stuffed with warm clothes they had taken to survive the European winter. Some looked crestfallen but vowed to try to emigrate again.
Mohsen Addi, a Yazidi from Sinjar in northwestern Iraq, whose community suffered from the massacre and enslavement by the Islamic State a few years ago, took his wife and children to Belarus via Turkey.
"We spent a month in Belarus, but it was very hard and cold there. I would have stayed until I died, but my family was in danger. If the situation in Iraq does not improve, I will leave again. There is no other choice," he says.
Addy complained that his Iraqi hometown still lacks basic basic services, such as electricity and healthcare, years after the defeat of ISIS.
On Thursday, the Belarusian authorities cleared the main camps where migrants had accumulated on the border with Poland.
Iraqis, especially Kurds, make up a significant part of the approximately 4,000 migrants waiting in the icy forests and trying to move to Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.
For several months, EU countries have been accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of organizing the migration crisis, thereby taking revenge on the European Union for the sanctions imposed after his victory in the disputed 2020 elections, when the authorities suppressed mass protests against the president. Naturally, Lukashenka denies all the accusations.
Now hundreds of potential migrants are returning home, having failed to cross the carefully guarded border. Some told about the harsh living conditions in the forest in winter, often with young children, and about beatings by border guards.
A 30-year-old Iraqi Kurd, who refused to give his name, decided to check in for an evacuation flight with his wife after they tried to cross the border at least eight times from Belarus to Lithuania and Poland.
"I wouldn't have returned (to Iraq) if it wasn't for my wife. She doesn't want to come back to the border with me because she has seen too many horrors there," the young man says.
The EU authorities hope that putting pressure on airlines to stop delivering migrants to Minsk will eventually lead to a weakening of the crisis. Several airlines have already agreed to stop flights to the Belarusian capital from Iraq and Syria.
At least eight people have been killed at the border in recent months, including a 19-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in a river trying to cross into the EU.

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