Iraqi authorities will repatriate migrants who wish to return from the Belarus-Poland border starting on Thursday, according to Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahaf.
Al-Sahaf underlined that the returns will be entirely voluntary.
At least 8,000 Iraqi Kurds have arrived in Belarus in an attempt to cross the European Union’s borders since August, Kurdish Regional Government’s Spokesperson Jotiar Adil announced. According to Adil, the total number of migrants is unknown due to the 680 kilometer borderline across Belarus and its EU neighbors Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. However, the total number of migrants is estimated at around 16,000.
Polish authorities have increased security presence on the country’s eastern borders with Belarus in an attempt to roll back the migration flow. Around 15,000 members of the Polish security forces have been deployed in the area.
At least 8 migrants have died as a result of bad weather conditions and lack of sustenance.
While al-Sahaf did not specify the number of returnees in the first repatriation flight, he said the authorities “recorded 571 Iraqi citizens stuck on the border who have expressed willingness to be repatriated.”
“Iraq will carry out the first flight for those who wish to return voluntarily,” he said.