The battle to control Europe’s borders has seen a massive exodus from Belarus and Iraq, with many migrants fleeing the country.
Today, hundreds who had attempted to reach refugee status within the EU through crossing the Polish frontier are returning to the Middle East on daily flights.
Minsk airport video and photos show the children, as well as their returnees, awaiting repatriation flights.
Sources in Poland stated that “it shows that it is possible with determined action to stop the malignant and illegal exploitation migrants,”
After failing to cross the border into Poland, hundreds of migrants flee Belarus to return to Iraq.
Pictured are men and boys from Iraq, mostly Kurdish, waiting to board a flight to return to their homeland after they failed to reach Europe.
Poland says that Alexander Lukasenko, the dictator of Ukraine, has been stopped from using vulnerable citizens as weapons by its “decisive” action at the border.
After being lured by false promises of entry into Europe from Belarus, two men take a flight to Minsk.
Last night, one Iraqi Airways flight departed at 10.15 am local time. Another departs today at 2.45 am.
They were both flying to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan from which many migrants crossing the Belarus-Poland border came.
The airline reports that more than 1,000 people said they wanted to return to their homeland. Belarus claimed previously that it tried to deport these migrants. But they did not want to.
Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, who approved the flow of thousands to his country from what EU leaders called hybrid warfare on the bloc, was embarrassed that it has been redirected to Erbil or Baghdad.
They were promised better lives in Britain and the EU, so Lukasenko’s KGB and border guards orchestrated multiple failed attempts to break the border illegally.
Lukashenko wanted to punish European nations for the sanctions he had imposed upon them for manipulating a presidential vote.
He is accused of conspiring with human trafficking gangs to inflict migrant chaos on Europe.
An elderly family boarded an early morning flight from Belarus to Iraq. This was a victory, according to Poland.
After failing to cross into Poland at the Belarus border, Iraqi men wait for a return flight to Erbil.
Minsk National Airport: Migrants awaiting an overnight flight by Iraqi Airways
After the repatriation flight was organized by Iraqi Airways, migrants check into a Minsk National Airport for an Iraqi Airways flight.
A mother holds her son from Iraq, who is returning home to Iraq after he failed to enter the EU through Poland’s border.
Lukashenko security agents have been accused of beating some returnees from Iraq.
The EU must now pay for the return flight costs, as the autocrat demands.
His rambling comment was: “Let Europe pay.” They are thieves. We have allocated money, millions and thousands…
“What’s the price of that flight?” There is nobody to pay. The European Union should pay.
Many returnees are in dire straits. After being promised by Lukashenko’s middlemen that they would be accepted into the EU, many have spent their entire savings on flights to Minsk.
The Iraqi foreign minister announced that it had evacuated 617 migrants who were stranded in Belarus on Thursday. This included children, women and elderly.
Ahmed al-Sahaf said that while the ministry continues to help the refugees, 617 Iraqis were returned in coordination by Iraqi Airways from Minsk.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi was the Baghdad premier and stated that he took all the necessary measures to protect Iraqi citizens’ safety and prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking.
After flying home from Belarus, migrants arrive in Erbil, Iraq at the airport.
Following their return from Belarus, migrants take buses home to Iraq.
He said that all Iraqis who are stranded in Iraq will be voluntarily returned to their homeland.
The majority of migrants to Belarus are also Syrian and Yemeni.
Some returnedes were subject to violence threats, according to The International New York Times.
Dhiab Zaydan stated that the Lithuanians beat them with sticks while the Belarusians did the same to us, and the Lithuanians used sticks and tasers on us, as per the newspaper.
“A Belarusian cop pointed a firearm at my head,” Nazar Shamsaldin (34) said. A labourer who claimed that he was given an order to go back to the EU to seek entry from Lithuania.
Lukashenko told him that if he didn’t return, he would kill him.
Al Jazeera spoke to Returnee Azad, his wife and said that they were treated as animals on the Belarus border with Poland.
“For the moment, we will not think too much about our future because once we begin thinking, it will become obvious that we don’t have one in Kurdistan,” he said to Al Jazeera in Duhok.
While thousands remain in Belarus as migrants, their numbers are beginning to decline after the EU claimed that it was an effort to wage “hybrid war” using vulnerable people as a weapon.
After failing to reach the EU, most migrants now live in temporary camps far from the Polish border.
“But we know both that we’re likely to be stuck here for our entire lives.”
Poland maintains its security at the border, and warns that the situation could escalate for many months.
Warsaw stated that on Thursday, it doesn’t see any immediate threat to its military operations and won’t invoke Article 4 NATO. This Article requires all alliance members “to consult together whenever they believe the territorial integrity or political independence of any Party is threatened”.
Although the migration has stopped, Mateusz Morawiecki (Polish premier) expressed concern that Lukasenko may encourage Afghan refugees in the future.
He claimed that “This would probably be one the next moves in the chessboard” with Russia supporting Belarus.