The Iraqis, who had traveled in search of a better life, began to return home. Although they have failed to reach the EU, it seems that some of them have not yet given up hope.
Two planes picked up hundreds of Iraqis trying to enter the European Union via Belarus on Friday.
The two planes landed early Friday morning in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous region of northern Iraq, carrying about 600 Iraqis, most of them Kurds, and then to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.
⁇ The New York Times The situation at Erbil Airport was such that a few dozen relatives were waiting for their family members to leave and then rushed to embrace them, tears welling up.
One of the returnees, 27-year-old Shaho Omar, said he and his friends were trying to reach Germany and then moved to Britain.
But on Wednesday, they abandoned their plans after learning that at least 27 immigrants had died after a failed attempt to cross the English Channel by ferry from France to Britain.
The incident is reminiscent of the immigration crisis of 2015, when thousands of people fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East drowned as they tried to cross the sea to reach Europe.
“We were shocked by what might have happened to them,” Omar told the New York Times. Others leave.
Thousands of Iraqis, many of them Kurds, are embroiled in a new migration crisis in Europe.
Iraq has not been at war since the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2017, but is plagued by a lack of opportunities and basic services, as well as the political system that most Iraqis claim is corrupt. They lose hope of a decent life in their homeland.
Iraqi immigrants say they want to escape from a country where the future looks bleak and job shortages and corruption are rampant, the New York Times reports.
Omar, a Kurdish man from the central city of Kirkuk in central Iraq, a disputed area claimed by Arabs, Kurds and Turks, says life there has been difficult since the Iraqi army recaptured the city. Kurdish forces four years ago.
He plans to find another way to Europe and try again after work to save money.
He continued, “If I find a better and safer way, I will definitely try again. There is currently no way, so I came back.”
Omar said of the Belarusian authorities’ treatment: “The police took our money, our phones and our food, and then they came back and offered to sell it to us, but we did not have enough money to buy them. Again.”
The European Union (EU) has accused Minsk of provoking the Minsk crisis by issuing entry visas to people from the Middle East, transporting immigrants and forcing them to cross the border illegally, as part of an “unusual offensive in various ways”. Belarus denies the allegations.
Omar’s friend, Mohammed, said Belarusian police had not sent migrants across the border to Poland in recent days, but rather tried to provoke them into crossing the border.
“The main goal of the police is to turn us into monsters,” Mohammed from Kirkuk told the New York Times. “If a person has no place to eat or sleep, they will enter the Polish border.”
According to 22-year-old Ahmed from Erbil, he still plans to reach Britain, but will wait until the summer to begin a sea migration voyage from Turkey to Greece.
Leaning on his crutches, Ahmed said he had broken his leg when Belarusian forces attacked him and guard dogs near the border. But he could not get medical treatment as his visa had expired.
“I will try to return to Aegean waters,” he said, referring to the route from Turkey to Greece. “After all I’ve gone through, I’ll come back because it’s bad here.”
When asked why he left Erbil, he referred to the powerful families controlling the Kurdistan region and whispered, “You know who this place is for.” “This place is not ours,” he told the New York Times.
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