Many migrants gathered at the Polish-Belarus border were taken to warehouses. In the meantime, they also began their return to the exporting countries by plane.
Belarusian authorities said Thursday that the largest camps along the Polish border have been evacuated. Belarusian state media reported that others were taken to a heated warehouse not far from the border. However, according to a video released by the Polish Ministry of Defense, a few hundred people are still in tents near one of the border crossings.
According to press reports, the majority of the illegal immigrants who froze at the Belarusian border and seek to enter Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, whose number is estimated at 7,000, are of Iraqi origin, and most of them are of Kurdish origin.
For months, the European Union has accused Belarusian President Lukashenko of retaliating against Western sanctions for his suppression of protests in the wake of the August 2020 presidential election by orchestrating the migrant crisis. The head of state elected in a disputed purity vote for his sixth term denies this. Belarus is said to have facilitated flights from the Middle East to Minsk and an attempt to move them across the EU border. According to press reports, many complained of the difficult conditions in the forest, often with young children.
They were transported by plane, and the human traffickers were arrested
Repatriation of migrants has already begun on Thursday. An Iraqi Airways Boeing 747 from Minsk, with 431 passengers on board, landed early Thursday evening at Erbil Airport in the autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.
The plane then headed to Baghdad, where the other returnees could disembark. Gutiar Adel, a spokesman for the Iraqi Kurdistan government, said that ten smugglers suspected of arranging the transport of migrants, including those at the Belarus-Polish border, had been arrested. The spokesman added that the government will continue to do everything in its power to help migrants return voluntarily.
The Iraqi government plans to launch several flights to bring back those wishing to return voluntarily to their home countries. Meanwhile, many airlines have agreed not to carry passengers to Minsk from countries such as Iraq and Syria.
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