The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

Iraq to begin repatriating citizens from Belarus border as EU sends aid.

Iraq is to begin repatriation flights on Thursday for migrants stranded on the Belarus-Poland border as aid agencies warn of a humanitarian crisis with the onset of winter.

The EU said on Wednesday it will send €700,000 worth of food, blankets and other aid to migrants at the Belarus border after criticism it had done too little to help. Germany’s acting chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone for the second time in three days to Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko.

A day after Polish border guards used water cannons against migrants hurling stones, the situation at the frontier appeared to have grown calmer.

Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf said that 571 Iraqis were ready to return “voluntarily”, although many remain determined to stay on in the hope of entering the EU. The first special Iraqi airways flight is expected to carry 200 passengers.

Iraq has dispatched diplomats to the border to “check on [the migrants’] safety and communicate with the relevant authorities”, Mr Sahaf said.

Regular service between the two capitals has been suspended, and Belarusian diplomatic missions in Baghdad and Erbil, capital of the Iraqi Kurdish region, have been closed for 10 days.

Western and Middle Eastern governments accuse Belarus of encouraging migrants to travel to the border with Poland to create a crisis at a time when the EU seeks to curb the flow of migrants into the bloc.

Following a visit to Baghdad on Monday, European Commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas welcomed “Iraq’s strong commitment to working together on migration” and boosting repatriation.

Makeshift shelters

Up to 4,000 men, women and children from Iraq, Syria and Yemen seeking asylum in Europe are camped on the Belarus side of the border, and are enduring freezing conditions in makeshift shelters without proper food, clothing, medicine, and other essential supplies.

At least eight have died at the Polish border since the crisis started this summer.

Smugglers lure migrants to Belarus by claiming that once they get across the Polish border they can easily reach Germany, the favoured destination. Migrants can pay from $3,500 (€3,000 ) to $14,000 (€12,000) each for the journey.

Among the Iraqis are many Kurdish families from the Kurdish autonomous region. Although relatively more stable than elsewhere in Iraq, they argue this region suffers from poor governance, rampant corruption, high unemployment and lack of freedom.

Dominated for decades by two clans, the Barzanis in the west and the Talabanis in the east, the Kurdish region became a refuge for both Kurds and Arabs from the upheaval in the rest of Iraq caused by the 2003 US occupation.

Professionals and businessmen flocked to the Kurdish area, bringing skills and commercial acumen needed to build prosperity in a region long neglected by Baghdad.

Islamic State

However, the region became burdened with thousands of destitute refugees after June 2014 when Islamic State seized Mosul and a wide stretch of territory in northern Iraq. A further wave of refugees flowed into the Kurdish region during the US-led military campaign to crush Islamic State.

This created crowded refugee camps and insecurity. The problem has been exacerbated by attacks mounted by pro-Iranian Iraqi Shia militias on bases in Erbil hosting US troops. – Additional reporting Reuters

Arthur Labinjo-Jones: Prison sentences of six-year-old's killers to be reviewed by attorney general.

Arthur Labinjo-Jones: Prison sentences of six-year-old's killers to be reviewed by attorney general.

The sentences for the killers of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes are to be reviewed by the attorney general "to determine whether they were too low". SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: F...

Wolf: Biden admin doesn't believe in Remain in Mexico policy.

Wolf: Biden admin doesn't believe in Remain in Mexico policy.

Former acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf argues the Biden administration is only reinstating the Trump-era 'Remain in Mexico' policy because the courts ordered so. #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live...

Michigan school shooting suspect and his parents isolated at same jail, sheriff says.

Michigan school shooting suspect and his parents isolated at same jail, sheriff says.

James and Jennifer Crumbley were arrested in Detroit early Saturday morning and are now being held at the same jail as their son, who is the suspect in the Oxford High School shooting. The three are all separated from one another, the Oakland Coun...

CNN officially terminates Chris Cuomo - Breaking

CNN officially terminates Chris Cuomo - Breaking

CNN issued a statement on termination of Chris Cuomo after conducting review of anchor aiding brother's defense #FoxNews #ChrisCuomo Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour...

Press Preview: A look inside Sunday's newspapers

Press Preview: A look inside Sunday's newspapers

We take a first look at Sunday's newspapers with the journalist and author Rachel Shabi and lead writer at the Daily Telegraph Tim Stanley. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on I...

Bond set for suspected Michigan shooter's parents

Bond set for suspected Michigan shooter's parents

'The Big Saturday Show' panel weighs in on further charges shooter's parents may face #FoxNews Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service deliver...