The Vice President of the European Commission (EC), Margaritis Schinas, arrived in Baghdad in the context of enhancing diplomatic efforts regarding migrants along the Belarus-Poland border.
Spokesperson for the EC, Eric Mamer, who confirmed the VP’s presence in Baghdad, also stated that the EU welcomes Iraqi authorities’ initiative to repatriate Iraqi citizens who remain stuck in Belarus.
The EU, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, and Belarussian authorities will all engage in technical talks to ensure the return of migrants to their origin countries, according to Mamer.
Mamer also called on the Belarussian government to “grant access for humanitarian support and provide shelter for migrants in the country” on Twitter.
Iraqi Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahaf confirmed that repatriation flights will begin today. “Our goal is to ensure the return of our citizens,” Al Sahaf said. The initial repatriation flight will have around 300 passengers on board. “At least 300 of our citizens wish to return to Iraq” Al Sahaf announced. All returns will be voluntary.
It remains unclear how many migrants are stranded along the Belarus-EU border which includes Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania.
Spokesperson for the Kurdish Regional Government, Adil Jotiar, had previously said that the number of Iraqi Kurds in Iraq stands around 7,000 to 8,000.