The Iraqi government has repatriated thousands of its citizens who became ‘trapped’ along the border of Lithuania and Belarus while attempting to migrate to Europe, according to reports.
Tens of thousands of migrants hailing mostly from the Middle East and Africa traveled to Belarus last year, hoping to continue onward into wealthier European countries, such as Germany and the U.K.
However, European Union member states along the Belarusian frontier prevented many of those migrants from penetrating their borders, forcing them to either live in tent camps or asylum centers — or return home.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein announced thousands of his fellow citizens have been back to Baghdad in recent months during a meeting on Sunday with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
“This issue took on a great media resonance and great humanitarian reach, and in cooperation with various countries in the European Union and with Lithuania, we were able to work in this field and were able to return 4,000 Iraqis who were trapped on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, and they were returned through 10 flights that departed from Baghdad,” Hussein said, as quoted by the Iraqi News Agency.
"There are some Iraqis still in Lithuania and we are waiting for their decision to return voluntarily to Baghdad."
Last year, the Lithuanian government began offering cash payments and free one-way flights to migrants who illegally entered via Belarus.
Any migrant who chose to go home was given a plane ticket and 1,000 euros (~$1,130), up from 300 (~$340) euros previously offered.
“After rejecting most asylum applications, we need solutions to return migrants to their country of origin," Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite told AFP in December.
"We hope that the higher payment will increase the number of migrants who return voluntarily.”
In addition to thousands of successful illegal border crossings, Lithuanian authorities say they prevented around 9,000 more in 2021.
The substantial uptick in migrant traffic came after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to allow aliens and drugs to flood Europe amid fraying diplomatic ties with the E.U. earlier this year.
Owen Shroyer covers the continuing health problems for those who take the vax.
(PHOTO: Sergei Bobylev / TASS via Getty Images)