PM Barzani calls on Europe to provide urgent aid to migrants stranded on its borders

Migrants stand stranded at the Belarusian-Polish border, Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo: Leonid Shcheglov/AFP)
Migrants stand stranded at the Belarusian-Polish border, Nov. 9, 2021. (Photo: Leonid Shcheglov/AFP)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani on Tuesday made the case for European nations to take urgent action to remedy the crisis playing out on the border of Belarus and Poland where thousands of migrants have been stranded for weeks in freezing weather.

The comments came during a telephone call with Margaritis Schinas, Vice President of the European Commission, according to a statement released by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

The two officials discussed various measures taken by the KRG and the federal government in Baghdad to address the situation, with Barzani welcoming the visit of a European technical team from Brussels to both Erbil and Baghdad to assess how the crisis is being handled and make recommendations for future action.

On Thursday evening, over 400 people, mostly Kurds, arrived in Erbil on a flight from Belarus.

Read More: Over 400 migrants on flight from Belarus touch down in Kurdistan Region's Erbil

While speaking to Kurdistan 24 shortly after their arrival in Erbil, returning migrants gave a mix of reasons for setting out on the dangerous journey, from Yezidis (Ezidis) who had been living in Kurdistan Region displacement camps since fleeing the disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal) when ISIS took over the area in 2014 to others who cited a lack of local job opportunities as their motivation.

Prime Minister Barzani said at the time that the Kurdistan Region welcomes any coordination at all with European Union member states to address the root problems involved.

In his discussion with Schinas on Tuesday, he also called for long-term strategic cooperation between the Kurdistan Region, Iraq, and the European Union to protect vulnerable families seeking to be resettled abroad from being taken advantage of and put in danger.

Schinas also called for the Kurdistan Region's "strengthening of trade and investment with Europe" and offered "technical and financial support for the far-reaching reform program initiated by the Kurdistan Regional Government," as stated by the KRG press release.

Prime Minister Barzani concluded by requesting additional aid for the one million displaced people now taking refuge in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.