Failing to enter Poland, some Iraqis return home from Belarus

Żaryn told PAP that a few evacuation flights did not "herald a breakthrough." Piotr Nowak/PAP

Many Iraqis have decided to return home as they failed to cross the Polish border so evacuation flights have started taking them from the Belarusian capital, Minsk, to Baghdad, the spokesman for Poland's special services coordinator said on Tuesday.

Poland has been tackling increased migratory pressure at its border with Belarus, blaming that country's Alexander Lukashenko regime of deliberately engineering the crisis in an attempt to destabilise the EU. Areas adjacent to the border have been under a state of emergency since September 2.

"The first Minsk-Baghdad evacuation flights have started for some migrants," Stanisław Żaryn wrote on Twitter. "Many Iraqis want to return from Belarus to their country."

Żaryn added the reason the Iraqis were returning to Baghdad were "multiple unsuccessful attempts to cross the well-guarded Polish border and logistical problems with accommodating migrants in Belarus." According to him, cold weather in Belarus was also an important factor.

Żaryn told PAP that a few evacuation flights did not "herald a breakthrough."

"For now it's hard to say whether it's the start of some wider trend," he said. "It's hard to say what will happen next - we are not banking on that migratory pressure ending any time soon," he said.

Żaryn said the evacuation flights were evidence of two things: "Firstly, migrants are ever more convinced that they have been cheated by the Belarusian authorities (saying) that there is an easy road from Belarus to the West; most of those who are returning see that there is no possibility of getting into Poland.

"Secondly - it's a further signal that Belarus is controlling everything; those who returned to Minsk and want to return to Iraq have such a possibility," Żaryn told PAP, adding that it was clear that the Belarusian authorities had organised the flights.