Almost 4,000 Iraqis Repatriated From Belarus’s Borders, Baghdad Says

Iraq has repatriated up to 4,000 of its citizens who had been stuck on the border of Belarus and European Union members Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia in recent weeks, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said on January 16.

Fuad, speaking at a press conference in Baghdad with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, said that since November 18, the Iraqi government has organized “10 flights from Baghdad to Belarus” to repatriate its citizens.

Separately, Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf later told AFP that “3,817 Iraqi migrants have been repatriated from Belarus and 112 from Lithuania.”

Sahaf said some Iraqis were still stuck in Belarus but that “the difficult weather and the complex environment do not allow rescuers to determine their numbers.”

The EU accuses Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s regime of funneling thousands of mostly Middle Eastern migrants to the borders of Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania as part of a “hybrid attack” to retaliate for Western sanctions that were imposed following Lukashenka’s crackdown on those protesting his reelection in a controversial vote in August 2020 .

Belarus has denied the claim and criticized the EU for not taking in the migrants.

With reporting by AFP and ELTA