Iraq — A Survey of Returnees from the Belarusian Migration Crisis (April 2022)




Period Covered
Feb 01 2022
Feb 28 2022
  • Survey
  • Flow Monitoring

During the recent migration crisis in Belarus, thousands of Iraqis experienced harassment, exposure and violence. Many returned, via IOM 
facilitated movements through the Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme and via movements organised and supported by the Government of Iraq from Belarus and neighbouring countries of the European Union (EU). Potential emigrants from Iraq began to travel to Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland in large numbers in the second half of 2021. In the context of negotiations between the Government of Belarus and the EU, the Government of Belarus’ relaxation of visa policies and a travel information campaign in Iraq, there was a significant increase in the number of potential emigrants from Iraq travelling to Belarus. Many of those potential emigrants travelled with the intention of onward travel to enter the European Union or the United Kingdom.

With the suspension of flights from Baghdad to Belarus in August 2021, potential emigrants from Iraq began to use alternative routes to reach 
Belarus and neighbouring EU countries, including from airports in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. The increase of Iraqi emigrants entering Belarus resulted in a crisis when Belarusian security forces began to move migrants to the country’s borders with Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. This was accompanied by reports of violence and abuse against Iraqi migrants at the border, many of whom were reportedly unable to move into Europe or back into Belarus. As a result, the Government of Iraq (GoI), facilitated the return of approximately 3,800 Iraqi migrants. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), with the support of the European Union, have continued to facilitate the voluntary return of Iraqi migrants from Belarus and EU countries.