What is happening in the refugee camp
For more than two weeks, migrants from the Middle East, stuck in Belarus, have been arranging life in a hangar for storing cargo. Living conditions in the transport and logistics center are so-so. There are toilets in the yard, there are several outlets for recharging phones, but there are few of them, the room is warmer than outside, but you can't sleep without clothes. But most of all the people are outraged by the lack of a soul. Refugees have not washed for several months.
At the very beginning of the story with migrants who set up a temporary camp on the Belarusian-Polish border, Alexander Lukashenko said that he was inviting all media outlets to cover the situation. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus restricted access to refugees for some journalists. “MK” several times sent a request with a request to work at the border. For the first time, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that they had lost our application. On repeated inquiries, numerous letters, they stopped responding altogether.
Some time ago we met the Deputy Chairman of the World Congress of Yezidis (Iraqi citizens, followers of the Yezidism religion) Khudo Bakoyan, who lives in Grodno. Our interlocutor has recently been arriving at the migrant camp as if to work.
“Yezidis not only at home, but also in the camp feel oppressed”
– I am in the refugee camp from morning until late at night. I communicate with people, help with translation, says Khudo Bakoyan. To be honest, I'm tired. But what can you do.
– There is no information from them, no one has contacted us. Although they promised to call. I dialed them myself, but the phones are not available. Maybe they have some problems.
– The Kurds flew away, 380 people. The Yezidis will definitely not return to their homeland. Because at best, a prison awaits them there. If the Kurds have at least some rights in their homeland, then the Yezidis have absolutely no rights. I saw with my own eyes how my people are being infringed upon in Iraq.
– Yes. I asked a Kurdish friend why they are considered traitors. He explained that this opinion comes from the state. Migrants here spoke out against their authorities. And in order to live normally in Iraq, people must please the ruling regime. I asked my interlocutor if none of the returnees had been imprisoned. The person avoided answering.
– The people are tired of living in unbearable conditions. Some of them haven’t taken a shower for two months.
– Maybe they had time to wash somewhere. It was not the poor Kurds who left the camp. They lived well in their homeland. I was in Kurdistan, where the economic situation is quite good. But in Iraq their rights were infringed, they wanted a better life. The wealthy Kurds had the goal of getting to Great Britain, where a large Kurdish diaspora settled – wealthy people live there, they help their own.
But the Yezidis have a different situation. They lived in tent camps in Iraq and had no rights. They constantly received threats, people were cleared their brains so that they recognize themselves as ethnic Kurds and adhere to Kurdish politics.
– In recent days, I have given out more than ten interviews. But when I began to explain what the root of the problem of the Yezidi people was, the journalists stopped me: “Tell us better about their situation in the camp.” And if one of the operators recorded my speech, then it was cut out from the plot. What is the purpose of this, I don’t understand?
– Perhaps. Absolutely nobody wants to listen. We have a newspaper “Belarus Segodnya”, they seem to have promised to publish my interview on this topic. But few people read them. I gave a comment to the federal Russian TV channel, but nothing went on the air. Everyone is interested in how migrants live in the camp. But why they are there, nobody wants to know.
– Useless. Earlier, I wrote at least ten times to the UN Secretary General, and I also addressed the President of Russia. Once I received an answer from the Department of the Middle East and North Africa of the Russian Foreign Ministry. They thanked me for my civic position. They wrote that they are aware of what is happening in Iraq and know about the situation of national religious minorities. They did not contact me again. They also wrote to me from America that they supposedly keep their finger on the pulse. The European Union assured that they were dealing with the situation. But all this is in words, no one solves the problem. Until we are heard, the flow of refugees will not stop. When this influx has passed, the second will come, followed by the third.
– Probably, a solution can be found with the help of the UN Security Council. The problem is that the Yezidis in Iraq did not get their rights. According to the Constitution, indigenous peoples are obliged to provide the right in places of compact residence, they must have their own internal troops and police. But the Yezidis were deprived of this. They are now the most vulnerable people in the Middle East.
– Journalists from two Kurdish companies came. I demanded a live broadcast from the Kurdistan 24 TV company to explain why the Kurds are treating the Yezidis so unfairly. They disagreed. Then an incident occurred. The operator directed the cameras at the migrants. The refugees began throwing sticks at the TV crew and whatever was at hand. People shouted insults at the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. The visiting journalists later explained to their Belarusian colleagues that the participants in the conflict were Yezidis, although our people were not there. The riot was raised by the Kurds. There are only 150 Yezidis and about 2,000 Kurds in the camp. It seems to me that it was a deliberate provocation by the journalists.
– When the refugees lived in the camp on the street, the Yezidis complained that the Kurds oppressed them. For example, when representatives of the Red Cross delivered food to the camp, the Yezidis got little. But they were afraid to talk about it, because they are in the minority.
I then approached the Kurds, spoke to them carefully. He warned that if they continued to behave like this, they would have problems. It scared them a little.
I have not heard any more complaints from the Yezidis. But they still stay away from the Kurds. They try not to sleep next to them. You see how scared they are. Yazidis not only at home, but even in the camp feel oppressed.
“Refugees who lived in cities were deported”
– What can I tell you. Toilets were installed outside. There are no showers, people don't wash. They can only wash their face. There are very few outlets, not enough for all. And there are plenty of people who want to recharge their phones. As I walk through the camp, a crowd runs after me and hands me their phones so that I can charge them at home. When I leave, I take ten phones with me, and in the morning I bring them.
– Many are coughing. I wear a mask, it's scary to get infected. On Sunday I sat with the investigator as an interpreter. He was in conversation with a Kurdish family. They said that they left the country because their child has health problems. They explained that in Kurdistan they were denied treatment. I think it's nonsense. True, then they added that they had sold their house in Iraq, they had nowhere else to live. They also fear that they will have problems when they return. This is what I believe in.
– No, they don't persuade, they just ask who is ready to leave. The other day it was reported that on November 28, some travel agency is organizing a flight to Iraq via Dubai. The ticket costs $ 400. Three days ago 60 people approached me and said they were ready to leave. Tired of living in difficult conditions.
– There is no understanding. And I see that they are already losing hope, many are at a loss. They constantly ask me: “What should we do?” I shrug my shoulders: “It's up to you.” While some Kurds are still thinking about leaving, the Yezidis are determined to stay in Belarus if the state provides them with at least some housing and work.
– In my opinion, no. I do not see such prospects. The Yezidis on Sunday turned to me to help resolve the situation through the Russian representatives of our diaspora. If Belarus does not shelter them, Europe does not accept them, then they want to get to Russia.
– Most likely, it will happen. As far as I know, many Iraqis who lived in cities and not in camps have already been deported. The migration services checked the visitors. Those who ran out of visas were sent back to their homeland.
“They don't perform religious rites, not before that”
– I was approached by the Yezidis who are in the neutral zone, in the region of the Brest region. There are 18 of them, along with children of 10 and 12 years old. They sit there for three days. I sent their geolocation to human rights defenders. He explained that people are in dire straits, without food. And it hurts me that I cannot help resolve this issue, this is not in my competence.
– Some of the Iraqi citizens know English, but if the border guards do not understand the language, then communication will not take place.
– There are ardent Islamists there who perform rituals. But not all. Many are not up to it already.
– It all looks ridiculous, I don't even want to comment.
– I repeat, there are many wealthy people among the Kurds. They also offered me dollars so that I could exchange them in the city for Belarusian rubles. I was surprised, you don’t know me, why are you giving money? They answered: “You are here all day, you tell the truth, we believe you.”
– No. The border guards are guarding them. By the way, the same border guards charge their phones, but on condition that the migrants behave calmly.
– A couple of days ago, several people showed me tickets to Iraq, which their relatives bought them via the Internet. They asked me to convey to the leadership of the camp that they want to return home. But when the information passed that the Kurds who had returned to their homeland were being infringed, many changed their minds to leave. And after the incident with Kurdish journalists, people are completely afraid to return. During a conversation with me, they confessed that they were filmed on camera, and now in Iraq the most active people can face punishment.
– The way to Europe is closed for them, they do not have a visa. They can stay in Istanbul, hide there, and then find ways to get to Europe. Those who left the other day admitted to me that they would not fly further than Turkey. Who knows what they really decide. Understand, people are in such a position that they are afraid to speak the truth.
– They will not be allowed to enter Belarus. The way here is closed for the citizens of Iraq and Syria, they will not receive visas. If they come illegally, they will simply be deported.
– Yes, there are already some companies in Belarus, enterprises decorate Christmas trees.
– It would be better if they organized a bath day. They unanimously shout: “We want to wash.”
On Monday morning Khudo again went to the camp to try to reach out to representatives of various departments about the situation of the Yezidis. We contacted him.
– Nobody wants to hear about our problem. I knock on closed doors, – the interlocutor complained. – Many important people come here, but no one delves into the root of the problem. And the migration crisis is like a disease. If the focus of the disease is not found, then the disease cannot be cured. If you wish, you can bring peacekeeping forces into Iraq, create normal conditions for the Yezidis in the country, and build housing for them. I brought the situation to the representatives of the UN Commission. But for some reason they are silent.