Iraq says 617 stranded migrants evacuated from Belarus
"The Iraqi government is working to bring back all stranded Iraqis voluntarily," Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it has evacuated 617 migrants stranded in Belarus, most of whom are women, children and the elderly.
"The ministry's efforts are continuing to evacuate the migrants voluntarily, and 617 Iraqis are now returned, in coordination with Iraqi Airways, from the Belarusian capital Minsk," Ahmed al-Sahaf, a spokesman of Iraq's Foreign Ministry, told the official Iraqi News Agency.
In an earlier statement, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi stressed the importance of taking all "necessary joint measures to preserve the security and safety of Iraqi citizens and work to avoid any Iraqis becoming a victim of human trafficking networks."
"The Iraqi government is working to bring back all stranded Iraqis voluntarily," al-Kadhimi said.
Earlier in the month, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced the suspension of direct flights to Belarus to protect Iraqi migrants from human trafficking gangs.
Thousands of migrants, many of them are from Iraq, Syria and Yemen, have been gathering on the Belarusian side of the border with Poland, in an attempt to enter Poland and then Germany to seek asylum in European countries.