Iraq halts direct flights with Belarus in a bid to stem human trafficking

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Iraq’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday it had halted direct flights to Belarus from Iraq, in a bid to protect Iraqis against human trafficking gangs.

“The Iraqi embassy in Moscow and Warsaw coordinate Iraq’s efforts for the voluntary return of those who are stranded at the Belarus border,” the Iraqi state News Agency quoted the ministry spokesperson as saying.

“Iraq has stopped direct flights between Iraq and Belarus,” he added.

On Wednesday, the government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, the source of hundreds of migrants stuck at the Polish-Belarus border, said it wanted to address the “root causes” of the problems pushing its citizens to emigrate.

Concern is growing for more than 2,000 migrants – mainly Kurds from the Middle East – who are trapped at the border, with the UN Security Council to hold an emergency meeting on Thursday over the issue.

Western governments accuse Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko of luring them to his country and sending them to cross into European Union and NATO member Poland in retaliation for EU sanctions.

Reuters

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