Sunday, November 28

Al Jazeera Net is communicating with Iraqi immigrants who refuse to return home, despite the difficult situation at the Belarusian border

The difficulty of living and the lack of job opportunities in Iraq, as well as the deteriorating security situation are factors that prompted many to emigrate despite the risks that beset them.

Iraqi youth gather over a fire to keep warm day and night amid the forests of Lithuania near the Belarusian border, where the temperature reaches 4 degrees Celsius below zero, and Lithuania – a member of the European Union – refuses to allow them to cross towards the old continent.

The Iraqi young man, Shihab Shanan, says that the difficulty of living and the lack of opportunities to work inside his country, as well as the deteriorating security situation, is what prompted him 5 years ago to emigrate and start first to study in a Russian university.

He adds that after the popular protests erupted in Iraq at the end of 2019, he returned to his homeland to participate in the demand for constitutional rights like the rest of Iraq’s youth, noting that he was subjected to an assassination attempt and kidnapping, which forced him to return to Russia to complete his studies at the Faculty of Engineering.

After completing his university studies and obtaining an academic degree in oil and gas engineering, Shanan decided not to return to Iraq, and head towards Europe in search of a decent life and in order to work in his specialty.

Iraqi refugees inside detention camps on the border (Al-Jazeera Net)

Lithuanian Hell

Shanan, who is currently detained in Lithuania – to Al Jazeera Net – spoke about the miserable condition of the Iraqi immigrants due to the harsh cold that about 3,000 people, including children and women, suffer in the Lithuanian detention camps.

The Iraqi refugee pointed out that the official authorities in Lithuania deal harshly with immigrants, revealing that the Lithuanian security had put him in solitary confinement for two weeks because of his statement about the tragic situation of one of the Iraqi channels through one of the direct programs.

Al-Sahhaf confirmed that Baghdad sent a plane to transport migrants wishing to return voluntarily to their homeland (Iraqi Press)

voluntary return

The Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs bears a great responsibility towards the migrant file, as it plans to operate the first flights to Belarus to return those wishing to return voluntarily on Thursday.

And the official spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Dr. Ahmed Al-Sahaf – told Al-Jazeera Net – that “the documented figures for the voluntary return to Iraq from the Belarus borders amount to about 170 immigrants,” suggesting that the number would rise before the start of the next trip, revealing that the ministry had granted 55 transit passports to Iraqi immigrants. .

Al-Sahaf stressed that the ministry supports the voluntary return of stranded migrants, and does not intend to force anyone to return.

Al-Sahhaf adds that his ministry is continuing in coordination with the airport authorities in Minsk to implement the exceptional flight to return the stranded there to the capital, Baghdad.

Regarding the voluntary return to Iraq, Shanan says, supported by those with him in Lithuanian detention, “If the government agencies in Baghdad guarantee living in stability and security with the implementation of the constitutional rights that we risked our lives to obtain in Europe, then we will agree to return to Iraq.”

Al-Halfi called for addressing the conditions that prompted many Iraqis to emigrate (Al-Jazeera Net)

Voluntary return is not a solution!

In parallel, a member of the Human Rights Commission in Iraq, Dr. Faten Al-Halfi, confirmed that “the voluntary return of Iraqi immigrants from European countries is not the real solution.”

She told Al Jazeera Net that the economic conditions for which they immigrated must be addressed, and then the voluntary return began, noting “the importance of following up on the conditions of immigrants by the state.”

Al-Halfi revealed the formation of a higher committee by the Ministry of Immigration to meet with immigrants in Europe to listen to them in order to achieve their demands as immigrants and Iraqi citizens.

And she stressed the need to continue Iraq’s diplomatic channels with European countries to stop the persecution of immigrants seeking a better life and provide them with amenities.

Al-Hassan: Baghdad proposed the voluntary return of its immigrants due to embarrassment in front of the European community (Al-Jazeera Net)

For his part, the civil activist from Baghdad, Ayoub Al-Hassan, considered that the voluntary return will be only a formality, as happened in the past years by the Iraqi ministries of immigration when buses ran to return immigrants from Turkey (northern Iraq) and few returned.

Al-Hassan explains that Iraq made the decision to voluntarily return its emigrants because of its critical position before the European Union, which demands Baghdad to withdraw its citizens, since Iraqis are the largest proportion of those on the Belarusian border.

Al-Hassan asserts – during his speech to Al-Jazeera Net – that “every Iraqi immigrant has a lot of accumulation and suffering from the dark years of 2006 and 2014 that he lived through and that led to the shaking of his national spirit, forcing him to migrate outside the country.” to the homeland.

Al-Hassan concludes by saying, “Rich Iraq with its infrastructure and superstructure is dilapidated in light of the spread of bribery in state departments, and it does not have the simplest living services…due to the dominance of parties and armed authorities on power and many other black reasons,” expecting that immigrants will not return to the country.

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