Two Iraqi planes departed to Belarus on Thursday evening (25 November) to collect more than six hundred migrants and asylum seekers detained at the Polish-Belarusian border.
The first plane is expected in Erbil International Airport Friday morning (26 November), the Iraqi Minister of Transport has announced. Hundreds of Iraqis, mostly Kurds, were already voluntarily repatriated last week.
Iraq has appealed for Iraqi citizens to fly home, telling them the way into the European Union is closed.
An estimated 7,000 people, mostly from the Middle East, descended onto western Belarus in recent months, hoping to reach the European Union. Some succeeded, but most did not because of the tightening of border controls. The largest camps were cleared last week after diplomatic talks between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, and the migrants and asylum seekers have been accommodated elsewhere, awaiting return to their countries of origin.