Iraq working with Poland to help stranded citizens in Ukraine
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that it would cooperate with Polish authorities to allow its citizens stranded in Ukraine to cross the border.
The statement came as Russian forces are reportedly closing in on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on the third day of their land, sea, and air assaults on the former Soviet country.
The Iraqi embassy in Warsaw is coordinating with the Polish government and border guards to support its citizens that are "able to get out of Ukraine," Ahmed al-Sahaf, the foreign ministry spokesperson, said in a statement reported by the state-run Iraqi News Agency.
On Friday, the ministry announced that Iraqis had not yet requested evacuation from the country that has been at war with Russia since Thursday.
Located on the western frontier of Ukraine, Poland has an "open-door" policy for those fleeing its neighboring country.
A day after the Russian invasion, there were unconfirmed reports that an Iraqi Kurdish student from Kirkuk had been killed in a missile strike on Kyiv.
The ministry's spokesperson recently announced that they are investigating the matter and had not yet been able to confirm the killing.
Kurdistan 24 did not obtain sufficient information about the incident to independently verify the student's death.
Ali Mohammed, an Iraqi student in the western Ukrainian city of Chernivtsi, told AFP that he had been calling the Iraqi embassy in Kyiv "dozens of times" since the invasion began, but "no one has picked up."
"We left Iraq to escape war... but it's the same thing in Ukraine (now)," Mohammed said.
In Ukraine, there are over 5,500 Iraqi citizens, 450 of whom are students studying in nearly 40 academic institutions, according to official figures from the Iraqi foreign ministry.
The ministry asked its citizens to leave the country in December as tensions were mounting between Ukraine and Russia.