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Doctors and pharmacists fly to Minsk from Baghdad amid illegal migration rumors
Passengers on Baghdad-Minsk flight / Euroradio
On June 16, a flight from Baghdad landed in Minsk. The flight was operated by Iraqi Airways.
Against the background of the Lithuanian border guards identifying more and more illegal migrants on the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, including from Iraq, the Dutch newspaper "De Gelderlander" writes that Belarus is involved in the transit of illegal immigrants into the EU. Iraqi Airways is also mentioned in the article.
At the end of May, Lukashenka said:
"We used to stop drugs and migrants; now you will eat them and catch them yourself [EU. - Euroradio]."
Since the situation with illegal migrants looks ambiguous, a Euroradio journalist went to the airport for the Baghdad-Minsk flight to see who was arriving in Belarus from Iraq and if anyone was expecting visitors.
"They have no reason to stay here"
Before the flight arrives, a counter with the logos of the travel company Oscar Tur appears in the arrivals sector. Gradually the Arab-looking passengers come out. There are about 100 people in total.
You might miss some in the crowd, but the vast majority of those arriving from Iraq is sure to come to the counter. There, the organizers are checking some lists, rearranging name envelopes, handing out small gift sets with honey and something resembling soap.
We ask the people behind the counter why so many people approach them.
"We are a travel company called "Oscar Tour." We meet tourists. We're the only ones who can take in 120 people. We have 350 people coming today. The group consists of doctors and pharmacists."
There have been many rumors lately that Belarus is involved in the transit of migrants to the EU.
"People say different things. But doctors won't come here to stay. You see, we have a hotel ready - the Renaissance," says the tour company representative, pointing to a stack of envelopes with the logo of the hotel. "There are no foreign tourists in Belarus; it's good that at least there are guests from Arabic countries. Other firms may have no work, and this is where the rumors come from. You know, we check all this so that everything is in order."
Next, those arriving on the Baghdad-Minsk flight go to the exchange offices and then get on the two big buses waiting for them outside the airport.
"Look at the buses we have," nods our guy, running through the papers.
The same buses that left the airport made it to the Renaissance hotel. But they refused to comment further, citing confidentiality.
We tried to promptly get more information from "Oscar Tour" about the arriving group, but they refused to communicate further.