Iraq sends two airplanes to take some migrants from Minsk

Two airplanes took off from Iraq to Belarus in the afternoon to take 617 Iraqis who have been stuck in Belarus, the country’s transport ministry announced.

“Two airplanes from Baghdad are to land in Minsk on Thursday, and then transport a total of 617 people back,” Interfax-West agency reported on Thursday afternoon, citing the Iraqi ambassador to Moscow.

Iraqi Airways' Airbus A320 aircraft, which can carry 180 passengers, is set to depart for Iraq at 10:15 p.m. Minsk time.

The second aircraft, a 420-seat Boeing 747-400, is yet to arrive and is due to depart after midnight from Thursday to Friday.

The Minsk airport indicated in the press release that the flight schedule may still change.

According to the Polish Press Agency PAP, large groups of migrants in Minsk were detained in various places on Thursday and taken to the airport with information that they would be directed to the return flight to Iraq.

“We are guarded by police officers,” one Kurdistan citizen told PAP by phone, adding that there are about 300 people at the airport with him.

On November 18, some 430 Iraqis, mostly Kurds, returned to the country. They volunteered after they had been camping on the border for weeks, hoping to illegally get to Poland and further to the west of the European Union.