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Thousands of Iraqi, Syrian refugees shiver at Belarus-Poland border

Iraqi Yazidis, Syrian Kurds and others are trapped in miserable conditions on the border, caught in a dispute between Belarus and the European Union.
Migrants at the Belarus-Poland border make fires to keep warm on Nov. 11, 2021.

Thousands of citizens of Iraq, Syria and other war-torn countries are stuck at the Belarus-Poland border, hoping to enter the European Union. Instability resulting from the conflict with the Islamic State and the Syrian civil war as well as poor economic prospects are compelling people to make the risky journey. 

Iraqi citizens began traveling to Belarus in eastern Europe last summer. The former Soviet republic is not in the European Union, but borders EU members Poland and Lithuania. Belarus is allowing migrants from Iraq, Syria and elsewhere to venture to Poland from Belarusian territory, but Poland is denying them entry. The EU is accusing Belarus of using the migrants as punishment for EU sanctions on the Belarusian government, a charge Belarus denies. There are also reports of Belarusian troops facilitating entry and even forcing the migrants across the border. 

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