Thousands of migrants are stuck at the Poland-Belarus border in dire conditions. Meanwhile, the UAE is stopping Afghan, Syrian, Yemeni and Iraqi citizens from boarding flights from Dubai to Minsk.
The government of Iraq said Monday it will begin arranging the first repatriation flight for citizens wishing to leave Belarus.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed al-Sahaf told local media that the first flight would be scheduled on Thursday.
"Iraq will carry out a first flight for those who wish to return voluntarily on the 18th," he told Iraqi television.
Iraqi Airlines suspended its service between Baghdad and Minsk in August. However, it has now been authorized to operate one-way flights from Minsk to Baghdad in response to those who found themselves stuck at the border, according to an airline spokesperson.
Afghan nationals added to list of banned passengers
On Sunday the national carrier of Belarus announced that it would be barring citizens from Iraq, Syria, Yemen from flights leaving from Dubai to Minsk. Afghan nationals have also been added to the list of countries Belavia airlines has banned from flights.
In a statement on its website Belavia airlines stated: "According to the decision of the competent authorities of UAE please note that starting from 14.11.2021 citizens of Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria will not be accepted for boarding on flights from Dubai to Minsk. In this regard, Belavia is strengthening documents verification during check-in for flights from Dubai."
The airline also denied facillitating the "transportation of illegal migrants to the Republic of Belarus."
On Friday Turkey's aviation authority announced that it would not be allowing travelers from Iraq, Syria or Yemen to travel on flights to Belarus from its airports. The decision was warmly received by EU leadership.
The European Union is expected to ramp up pressure on Belarus by expanding sanctions, and may include airlines and travel agents involved in transporting migrants to Europe.
Migrants face grim conditions at the border
As European leaders attempt to cut routes of travel, thousands of migrants who are caught in limbo between the Poland and Belarus, have been facing nightmarish conditions at the border.
Those stuck at the border have limited food and water or medical supplies and each night endure plummeting temperatures.
Despite the humanitarian crisis on its border, Poland is not relenting.
DW correspondent Barbara Wesel said that Poland's leadership appear to be avoiding the developing humanitarian crisis on its border. “They don’t comment on the humanitarian situation on the border, they more or less are denying it. They passed last week in parliament an ordinance that makes push-backs legal according to Polish law, so that’s what they try to do," Wesel said.
Empowered by Polish law, border guards continue to return groups of migrants attempting to make their way into the country with the help of infrared cameras.
"People they catch on the border regions who have managed to cross the border, if they come upon border guards, they will be pushed back onto Belarus territory, so this game back and forth, back and forth goes on with horrible conqequences,” Wesel added.
kb/rt (AFP, Reuters)
First published: November 15, 2021
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