2021.11.30 17:00

Kurdish migrant group with children found near Lithuanian border, one child seriously ill

Domantė Platūkytė, Benas Gerdžiūnas, LRT.lt2021.11.30 17:00

LRT journalists working on the Lithuania-Belarus border have met a group of migrants, including at least five children. One of the children is sick and will receive medical assistance in Lithuania, according to the journalists.

“Most of the migrants identified themselves as Iraqi citizens coming from Iraqi Kurdistan,” said LRT journalist Benas Gerdžiūnas.

“There were at least five men, three women, and at least five children. […] Two women from Somalia were also with them. One child was sick,” he added.

The migrants asked the Lithuanian border guards for medical assistance. They were taken to the nearest checkpoint where doctors came to assist them.

“A Kurdish man, who spoke English, said that after they arrived in Minsk, the migrants unsuccessfully tried to cross into Poland. When one of their children became seriously ill, they wanted to go back to Minsk, but Belarusians did not allow them to do so,” Gerdžiūnas said.

“According to the man, they paid at least several thousand dollars to Belarusian officers to allow migrants to go back to Minsk. The child was hospitalised there for six days,” the journalist added.

After the child was discharged from the hospital, migrants tried to get back to the border. The Belarusian border guards eventually directed them to the Lithuanian border.

According to the Kurdish group, they have spent at least five days at the Lithuania-Belarus border and were pushed back and forth by Lithuanian and Belarusian border guards.

"When asked why they were risking the health of their families and children by continuously trying to cross the border as the weather conditions were getting worse, they said they simply could not return to Iraq or Belarus,” Gerdžiūnas said.

“They said, ‘Do whatever it takes for us to not be sent back to Belarusian officials because they are very dangerous’,” the LRT journalist added.

The Kurdish people said they could not return to Iraq because their family was in danger there.

The spokesman of the Lithuanian Border Guard Service (VSAT) Giedrius Mišutis told BNS that, on Tuesday morning, the border guards detained 14 migrants, including six minors, who had crossed the border.

“Four men, four women, and six minors were detained. They are being taken or have already been taken to the nearest border checkpoint for medical evaluation and procedures,” Mišutis said.

The VSAT spokesman could not say whether migrants would be returned to Belarus and added that every case would be assessed individually.

“As always, they will be fed. They will warm up and rest if necessary. The circumstances of the border violation will be assessed […], and then a decision will be made on their legal status,” Mišutis said.

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