The Iraqi airline has temporarily suspended all its flights to Belarus. An Iraqi citizen is alleged to have died earlier this week on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Finnish Noor is worried about his little brother in Lithuania.
After Lithuania has arrived via Belarus to seek asylum from several Iraqis who have Finns or Iraqi relatives in Finland. The reality in Lithuania has been harsh.
Of the men reached by HS from Lithuania, one had been returned to Iraq by the Finnish police against his will and the other had returned voluntarily. The third has fled to Europe for the first time. The men do not appear in their names for security reasons.
They are among the more than 4,000 migrants who have entered Lithuania illegally this summer from Belarus. The European Union suspects that Belarus is deliberately organizing cross-border migrants in order to retaliate against the EU for the sanctions it has imposed on Belarus.
The EU has accused Belarus of using migrants as its pawns. The number of migrants to Lithuania is exceptional, as only about 80 of them arrived in the country last year.
The men interviewed by HS had noticed on social media channels that Iraqis were traveling to Europe via Belarus. They seized the opportunity and purchased plane tickets from Iraq to Minsk.
“When I see an open door, I go for it. I decided to leave because I want a normal life, like with people. I was tired of hiding. It was not life, it was hell, ”says the man returned to Finland by telephone from Lithuania.
Thirty the man had time to live in Finland for 3.5 years before the police returned him involuntarily to Iraq on May Day 2018 and imposed a two-year ban on entry into the Schengen area.
The man’s big brother received a residence permit in Finland due to the persecution he experienced in Iraq, but the immigration authorities did not believe the little brother’s story.
The man had time to learn the Finnish language and did two jobs in Helsinki: as a team leader at Posti and as a cleaning and real estate services company in Sol. In the mail, he had just been promoted. There was also a big brother and a Finnish girlfriend in Helsinki.
“I had built a new life from scratch in Finland. But now I am sad when I talk about Finland. I don’t want to talk, it hurts a lot, ”the man sighs heavily.
In Iraq, he had no one left. The man hid, felt insecure, and feared dying. Eventually he fled to Turkey. In July, friends bought him a plane ticket from Baghdad to Minsk.
In Lithuania has now passed three weeks. Authorities have placed him in a closed camp in the village of Kazitiškis. According to the man, there are 130 inhabitants, in one room twenty. There is no access to the shop or outside the camp fences.
According to the Lithuanian Border Guard, the movement of illegal immigrants is restricted until their identities have been properly verified. Migrants who have applied for asylum may leave their accommodation temporarily if they have been granted official permission to leave.
The man has told the authorities that he is in danger in Iraq and that he wants to seek asylum in Lithuania, Finland or another safe European country. Uncertainty gnaws.
“The Lithuanian government does not have a clear plan on how to deal with migration issues. I don’t know about my future. Yesterday I was told that I have been here for maybe half a year, maybe a year. This place is like a prison. ”
Not at all not all have been allowed to apply for asylum. On the phone is a Baghdad man in his twenties who has a brother who has acquired Finnish citizenship in Helsinki. He says he has been in the camp for three weeks, but authorities have not interviewed or taken fingerprints, which is worrying.
“The Lithuanian government treats us like prisoners. The country feels like a Soviet republic. It does not have a European system for dealing with migrants. ”
According to the Lithuanian authorities, some of the more than 4,100 migrants who have arrived have already been able to apply for asylum. HS did not reach the Lithuanian Immigration Service for the number of applications submitted for comment.
Finnish Chairman of the Asylum Seekers’ Support Association, researcher Sanna Valtonen is concerned about the realization of the rights of asylum seekers in Lithuania, an EU country.
“What is happening in Lithuania at the moment does not match what is promised in the process description of local authorities. It is worrying that people are not kept informed of the progress of their case. They are afraid of being converted before they have time to apply for asylum. ”
Lithuania announced earlier this week that it would refuse entry to illegal immigrants and direct them to the nearest international border crossing points. Since then, border guards have released only 56 of the approximately 700 people caught at the border by Friday, according to AFP.
According to Lithuanian NGOs, forcing migrants back into Belarus violates international human rights treaties. Applying for asylum is a fundamental right, and Belarus cannot be considered a safe country.
Lithuania has further tightened its stance on migrants. Border authorities can the Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitėn with a recent decision to use force to direct migrants to border crossings and embassies in different countries to seek asylum.
Shortly afterwards, Belarus announced that it would begin an investigation into the death of the Iraqi man. The man is said to have been found beaten at the border and eventually died, AFP says. Belarus has reported encountering dozens of Lithuanian-backed migrants with bruises.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Interior has overturned Belarus’ allegations of a dead Iraqi and denied the use of excessive force.
Following the alleged death of the migrant, the Iraqi airline announced that it would temporarily suspend all its flights from Iraq to Minsk for ten days. Just a little earlier, the airline had planned to increase flights to Minsk.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said AFP said it wanted to protect Iraqi citizens who had fallen victim to smugglers. The EU has tried to influence Iraq to curb migratory flows and called for better control of flights.
In Helsinki resident Finn Noor has followed the events of the heart aside. The little brother is in a miserable tent camp in Rūdninkai, Lithuania, and the mother’s travel plans failed due to flight cancellations. The mother was scheduled to travel from Iraq to Minsk this Sunday.
The brother returned voluntarily from Finland to Iraq in the summer of 2017 to care for a seriously ill mother, but wants to come back.
Noor broadcasts videos of his brother’s camp, whose residents have staged demonstrations against the treatment he considers inhuman. A peaceful-looking protest is followed by a group of policemen crammed into riot gear behind a tent camp fence.
It is not quite clear from the video what is going on between the immigrants and the police, but eventually the camp fence is opened and the residents transport the person to the ambulance. Lithuanian media reported that the police used at least tear gas.
According to the young man, one of the immigrants was beaten by police. He hopes that his brother will be able to transfer his asylum application to Finland.
“All the returned Iraqis want to come back to Finland. The difference in life between Iraq and Finland is so great. First of all, Finland is safe, but Iraq is not. ”