On Thursday, the Iraqi Ministry of Transport announced the arrival of a plane carrying refugees stranded on the border between Belarus and Poland.
The ministry said in a statement, “The Iraqi Airways plane designated to transport Iraqi citizens who were stranded on the Belarusian-Polish border, arrived at Erbil International Airport.”
Earlier in the day, the spokesman for the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, Ahmed Al-Sahhaf, said that “430 Iraqi immigrants have been documented traveling to Iraq on the evacuation flight that will be today.”
Al-Sahaf added in a statement, “The consular teams residing in Belarus are continuing to register the names of 50 others.”
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”, coming from Belarus from entering its territory, which has left them stranded at the borders of the two countries in poor conditions.
And 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 border between the two countries, 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.