Migration crisis flashpoint: Iraq suspends all flights to Belarus

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Iraq’s authorities have suspended all flights from Iraq to Belarus. Only return flights from Belarus will now be realized for Iraqi citizens.

The Iraq Civil Aviation Authority canceled the flights due to hordes of Iraqi citizens flying to Belarus to try to reach Western Europe based on tourist visas issued by Minsk. Iraqi Airways and Qatar Airways are the main two airlines whose flights are to be suspended. In the case of Iraqi Airways, all the flights in the upcoming days have been booked. Spokesperson of the Polish Minister-Special Services Coordinator Stanisław Żaryn reported Iraq’s decision on Twitter.

Migrants have been flowing into Belarus For several weeks, where they are later transferred to the borders with EU states. Initially, they were transported mainly to Lithuania’s border, but now Poland has become the main target.

One of the migrants who managed to reach Germany revealed that he had paid USD 10,000 to smugglers. He stated that he had not flown directly from Iraq to Belarus but rather took a transit flight through Beirut to Minsk. Once he reached Belarus he was transported to Brest via car and then walked to the Polish border.

According to Stanisław Żaryn, Minsk-controlled travel agencies are searching for eager foreigners in their home countries. Migrants are required to pay for transport and also a caretaker who would guide them through transport hubs in Moscow or Istanbul. “Belarus is one day out of your life,” reads one of the slogans from Minsk’s advertisement campaigns in the Middle East.

“The Belarusian administration continues to search for new companies and directions which could be used in the transport of migrants,” explains Żaryn. People who reach the Minsk airport already have the appropriate visas and invitations from Belarusian authorities. The migrants spend their first days in Belarus, often in state-owned hotels. They spend their time sightseeing in Minsk. One of these hotels is Hotel Planeta, in which one night’s stay costs EUR 43 per person.

The Belarusian Border Guard is responsible for the transport of the foreigners to the border regions. The migrants are sent to barracks, in which they are grouped and prepared for the possible illegal crossing of the Polish-Belarusian border. This operation has been shown in several video clips posted by the Polish Border Guard on social media.

“The protection of the Polish-Belarusian border carried out by Belarusian services. Illegal migrants receive precise instructions on where and how to pass the border,” posted on Twitter Polish Border Guard.

The Polish Border Guard reports several hundred attempts to illegally cross the border each day. Illegal migrants, mainly Iraqi citizens, are being stopped or detained at all times, day and night.

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