sunny.png
Thursday May 19th, 2022 5:00PM

Doctor warns Iraqi Kurds: Illegal path to EU can be deadly

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BIELSK PODLASKI, Poland (AP) — Dr. Arsalan Azzaddin was seeing migrants from Iraq and Syria being brought into a hospital in eastern Poland every day with hypothermia, pneumonia, broken bones and severe dehydration. So he asked a Kurdish TV channel to let him go on the news to warn people in his homeland not to attempt the dangerous journey into the European Union through the Belarus-Poland border.

“I want them not to come. They could die,” Azzaddin told The Associated Press on Monday.

At first, the medical director of the Bielsk Podlaski hospital was accused by some viewers of doing the bidding of the Polish government, which has taken a hard line in seeking to keep out migrants, using razor wire and a show of border police and military to stop attempts to sneak across the EU's eastern border.

So he returned again to Kurdish TV, this time letting his patients describe their suffering from their hospital beds.

And he also had a message for the Iraqi leaders: “Save those people,” he said. "Kurds don’t deserve something like this.”

Only days later, the Iraqi government began taking steps to stop the migration of Iraqis, many of them Kurds, to Belarus. They halted flights to Belarus, closed offices that issued travel visas to Belarus and sent government planes to bring stranded people there back home.

EU officials also mounted pressure on Iraq to halt the migration, but Azzaddin is convinced that his appeals on TV, which he said reached 2.5 million viewers, played a significant role.

Azzaddin, originally from Irbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, has lived in Poland for 40 years. His hospital in Bielsk Podlaski, a town of 25,000, is located 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the border with Belarus, which migrants and refugees, mostly from the Middle East, have been trying to cross since the summer in hopes of finding better lives in the EU.

The EU accuses the authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, of orchestrating the migration in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Belarus over an presidential election in 2020 that was widely viewed as rigged and a harsh government crackdown on peaceful protesters.

Most of the migrants seek to reach Germany or elsewhere in Western Europe. But after 1 million refugees came to the EU in 2015, the bloc has sought to keep out any large new groups of asylum-seekers. The way it has done so, tacitly allowing the pushbacks of migrants and outsourcing migration control to Libya and Turkey, has prompted rights groups to accuse the EU of abetting human rights abuses.

With Poland's border increasingly sealed, it has gotten harder and harder for migrants at the border. Many are getting trapped in a dank forest of bogs that sees subfreezing temperatures at night. There have been reports of several deaths, and Azzaddin believes there are more on the Belarus side, based on his monitoring of social media posts by migrants.

With flights to Belarus from the Mideast coming to a halt, Azzaddin says he believes there are no more migrants in Poland's forest but there are still 2,000 people on the Belarusian side.

Azzaddin said his hospital had lately been receiving two to five migrants a day needing urgent medical treatment. One was a Syrian woman who suffered a miscarriage after being stuck in the forest for 22 days. When she was finally taken to the hospital, she caught COVID-19. The woman, a 38-year-old from Aleppo, was escorted away from the hospital on Monday by Border Guard officers who would not let AP journalists speak to her.

Azzaddin supports the strict Polish approach to migration. He says if Poland were to allow in all the people that Belarus was shepherding to the EU's doorstep, the numbers would only grow and Lukashenko would prevail in his geopolitical standoff against the West.

The problem, he says, should be addressed at its roots. He sharply accuses Iraqi authorities of failing to create conditions where people can have dignified lives.

“You have to ask why people are coming," he said. "The leaders of many countries, of the United States and the European Union, must ask the Iraqi authorities why people are fleeing. These are educated people. They don’t have work, they don’t anything to survive on.”

He supports immigration, but wants to see it happen in a legal, controlled way.

“We must teach young people that the illegal way is not a good way. If you have an education, look for a job, do it legally," he said. "I am the medical director of this hospital. If 20 doctors wanted to work here, I could give them work tomorrow. But they must fulfill certain requirements. Coming here by risking the death of your family and children is not a good way.”

___

Follow all AP stories about global migration at https://apnews.com/hub/migration.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Doctor warns Iraqi Kurds: Illegal path to EU can be deadly
A Kurdish doctor working at a Polish hospital has been treating Iraqi and Syrian migrants who have entered Poland from Belarus and gotten trapped in a dank forest
11:26AM ( 21 minutes ago )
SUV driver in parade crash may have been fleeing a crime
A person taken into custody after an SUV plowed into a crowd of holiday parade marchers in Wisconsin, killing at least five people, has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks
11:23AM ( 24 minutes ago )
French military denies injuring protesters in Burkina Faso
The French military has denied injuring civilians in Burkina Faso when firing warning shots to disperse protesters who had blocked its military convoy
11:21AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Locals gather to pay respects to longtime British lawmaker
Hundreds of residents in the southeast English coastal resort of Southend have paid their respects to their longtime member of Parliament
10:48AM ( 1 hour ago )
Russia rejects Western concerns about Ukraine as smokescreen
The Kremlin has rejected the U.S. claims of a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine as a ruse intended to cover up what it described as Ukrainian leadership’s aggressive intentions
10:05AM ( 1 hour ago )
EU wants calm amid virus protests; rioters called "idiots"
European authorities are pleading for patience, calm and a willingness to still take a COVID-19 vaccine shot in the arm as infections — and demonstrations — spike upward again
10:02AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
SUV driver in parade crash may have been fleeing a crime
A person taken into custody after an SUV plowed into a crowd of holiday parade marchers in Wisconsin, killing at least five people, has been identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks
11:23AM ( 25 minutes ago )
French military denies injuring protesters in Burkina Faso
The French military has denied injuring civilians in Burkina Faso when firing warning shots to disperse protesters who had blocked its military convoy
11:21AM ( 26 minutes ago )
Bezos makes gifts to Obama foundation and NYU medical center
Former President Barack Obama’s foundation announced that it has received a $100 million donation from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, which it says is the largest individual contribution it has received to date
11:16AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Russian admiral: Kursk disaster caused by NATO sub
A retired Russian admiral has alleged that the 2000 Kursk submarine disaster was caused by a collision with a NATO sub in an unproven claim that defies the official conclusion that the country’s worst post-Soviet naval catastrophe was triggered by a faulty torpedo
11:14AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Prosecutor in Ahmaud Arbery case: Arbery was under attack
A prosecutor in the murder trial over Ahmaud Arbery's death is arguing that none of the three white men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery had cause to make a citizen’s arrest when they saw him in their neighborhood
11:08AM ( 39 minutes ago )