Watch – the moment an Iraqi plane arrives to transport hundreds of stranded migrants from Minsk airport
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said that 430 migrants have been documented traveling to Iraq on the evacuation flight, which will be on Thursday.
Pictures and video clips showed the moment an Iraqi plane arrived to transport hundreds of Iraqi migrants gathered at the Belarusian Minsk airport, in preparation for their return to Iraq, after they were refused entry to European territory through Belarus.
Iraqi Airways had published – on its Facebook page – a set of photos and commented on it, saying that “Iraqi citizens stranded inside Belarus arrive at the Iraqi Airways station inside Minsk Airport to cut tickets on board the national carrier.”
And the Iraqi Ministry of Transport announced earlier the launch of one of its air fleet planes – this morning, Thursday – from Baghdad International Airport to Minsk Airport to evacuate Iraqi citizens stranded on the Belarusian-Polish border.
Abbas Omran, Director General of Iraqi Airways, said, “According to the directives of the Minister of Transport, Captain Nasser Hussein Bandar Al-Shibli, an exceptional flight was conducted using a large-body B747 aircraft after obtaining official approvals from the Iraqi and Belarusian higher authorities.”
He added that all the required needs have been secured and a specialized cadre of the company’s crews has been allocated to carry out this type of humanitarian trip, noting that the arrivals are suffering from difficult conditions, wishing them a safe arrival home.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Al-Sahhaf, said – in a statement – that 430 Iraqi immigrants have been documented traveling to Iraq on the evacuation flight, which will be today.
He added that the consular teams residing in Belarus are continuing to register the names of 50 others, pointing out that the government is working hard to provide the highest level of response to the voluntary return, and “we dedicate to the diplomacy of the national response.”
This flight is the first of its kind since last August, when the Iraqi government evacuated 690 of its citizens stranded on the borders of Belarus and Lithuania in eastern Europe.
For weeks, the Lithuanian government has prevented hundreds of Iraqis as “irregular immigrants” from Belarus from entering its territory, which has left them stuck between the two countries’ borders in poor conditions.
Last week, many asylum seekers tried to cross the border to enter Poland from Belarus, where there are currently about 4,000 asylum seekers at the two countries’ borders, according to the Polish news agency.
The European Union accuses Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of coordinating the arrival of this wave of migrants and refugees to the eastern side of the bloc, in response to European sanctions imposed on his country after his regime’s “brutal repression” against the opposition.