Migration crisis. The Iraqis are returning from Belarus

  • Representatives of the Yazidi minority living in Iraq say how they were treated on the Belarusian-Polish border.
  • According to Amnesty International, there must be “horrific torture or other mistreatment and abuse” at the border by Belarusian authorities.
  • We were in Belarus for 10 days. No water, not even dirt, or no food – says Jait, who arrived at the border with his family
  • I said I wanted to be with my family and was kicked for it One of the immigrants tells of a meeting with the Polish police
  • You can find stories like this on the Onet homepage

For 13 days, Haitham, his wife Talia and daughter Kather camped in the jungles of both Poland and Belarus. Like many ethnic Yazidis living in Iraq, they sought to enter Europe. However, instead of ending up in the Promised Land, they found themselves. In addition, in freezing conditions, without food and water.

“Trust me, it’s not a pleasant feeling to see your own daughter on the verge of death,” said Haitham, 24.

“I was digging in the ground to get water, but there was nothing,” Talia recalled spending time at the border. The daughter could not breastfeed due to lack of water and food. In addition, it was impossible to get diapers, so she cleaned up with tissues and reused what she had.

In November, a Syrian boy was killed on the Polish border Katherine is the same age. This may be the youngest victim of the migration crisis on the Polish-Belarusian border.

The rest of the text below the video

How did it all start? The movement of migrants from the Middle East to the Polish border was organized by Belarusian authorities in retaliation for EU sanctions. Brussels imposed them last year in response to repression of opposition activists following fraudulent presidential elections. There are several indications that the Belarusian leader wanted to turn the diaspora into an instrument of pressure on European countries. Brussels was seen as intimidating the approaching wave of immigrants and easing sanctions on the Lukashenko regime.

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For this purpose, the state travel agency in Belarus began to facilitate the obtaining of tourist visas. That level was coming to the country. Many immigrants and asylum seekers were motivated by the possibility of a quick and safe route to Europe – as an alternative to hiking across the Balkans or crossing the dangerous seas to Greece.

So they flew to Belarus and then headed for the Polish border. However, they found out on the spot that they were not welcomed. Polish authorities mobilized about 15,000 people, including soldiers and border guards to prevent them from entering.

“I said I wanted to be with my family. They kicked me.”

Haitham and his family left their tent in September in the village of Sharia Camp in the Kurdish governorate of Duhok. They went to Turkey, where the authorities arranged visas for them, and then flew to Minsk. The fare for a trip that costs them a total of 16,000. Dollars., They sold the car.

Ziatum, a neighbor of Haidam, left the Sharia camp for Belarus. He took his parents and siblings with him. Three more families went with them.

– We stayed there for 10 days. The 24-year-old says there is no water, not even dirt, or no food.

At the time, he says, Belarusian police “pushed us to force us to cross the Polish side and beat us with sticks.” – Polish police fired tear gas at us. They pushed us on both sides and we got stuck inside – says Jite.

Eventually, they were able to cross the Belarusian border with Poland. The kidnapper arranged for a car to take them to Germany.

– We waited three days in Poland for a car, but no one came. There were 30 of us, we were all together, in the woods. We called the Red Cross to ask for help, to which they replied that they would arrive in three hours. But they did not show up. We called them back and then they said they would be back in half an hour. But in half an hour they were replaced by Polish police – says Zait.

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He says he was beaten by a policeman for speaking English and separated himself from the rest of the group. “I said I wanted to be with my family, but I was kicked out,” the person says.

Amnesty International: Torture on the border

A group of nomadic families living on the border offered to pay the Belarusian police $ 500 each. For sending them back to the Belarusian side, but the Belarusian side refused. Eventually, the families dug under the fence, walked three kilometers, took taxis and drove back to Minsk.

Evidence gathered by Amnesty International confirms their experiences on the borders of Jihad and Haitham. A human rights organization interviewed 75 people who tried to cross the border between July and November 2021. That border is said to have led to “brutal torture or other misconduct and abuse” by Belarusian authorities.

Polish authorities carried out mass evacuations, forcing asylum seekers or immigrants to cross the border regardless of their personal circumstances, or the so-called pushback action is illegal under international law.

Back home

The Haidam and Ziada families returned to their homes in the Sharia camp on November 18.

More than 12,000 700 Yazidis lived in these tents for seven years after leaving their homeland of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The Islamic State invaded the city in 2014 and began massacring ethnic and religious minorities, killing thousands and using women as sex slaves. The United Nations says the atrocities bear the brunt of genocide.

– You see my house – This is not a house, this is a camp. We have lived here for seven years. What can I do to make a better life for my family? For my daughter? I wish her the best – she says in an interview with The Globe and Mail Haitham. – I can not go back to Sinjar because Turkey is bombing there. The person says that Sinjar is not safe for us.

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Haider Elias, Yasta’s managing director, explains that tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government have put Sinjar in the middle of a conflict, and that it is being exploited by armed groups in Turkey and Iran and in the region. A charity to help beggars affected by Islamic State persecution. The Yazidis do not believe and fear that this country will prosper – at least not because of ISIS. In 2007, there was Al Qaeda, before Saddam Hussein. They also believe that repeated harassment will not stop in the future – says the expert.

One more time Europe?

The problem throughout Kurdistan is unemployment. Ziat points out that almost nothing happened at his car repair shop. – It was better in 2016 and 2017 – there was no security then, but at least there was work – he adds.

Zaid was captured by IS in 2014 when militants infiltrated Sinjar. They kept him for five days before he could escape. He tried to travel to Europe twice via Turkey and once through Belarus – the last attempt cost his family more than 30,000. Hole. Belarusian experiences did not discourage him from trying further. His four siblings were able to move to Germany via Greece in 2016.

According to Haitham, he has gone home. There he was found suspended from work in a hospital laboratory in Mosul for two months. “My job is gone, my money is gone,” he says.

– We have nothing after the return – Talia concludes.

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