Emotional scenes unfold as dozens of Iraqi migrants return home from Europe

BAGHDAD -- Emotional scenes unfolded at the Baghdad International Airport on Thursday as dozens of Iraqis who had sought refuge in Europe returned home.

See Full Article

More than a hundred Iraqis, mostly young men, landed in Baghdad on a flight from Finland. Some kneeled, kissing the ground. Many were holding the so-called "yellow passport," travel documents issued by Iraqi embassies in Europe and elsewhere to those wishing to return home.

"It's too difficult to live there," said one of the women, Um Ealia, who declined to be identified by her full name fearing for her own security. "I've come back home. I feel happy. I have good memories in Iraq."

She was just one of 103 people who returned to Iraq on Thursday, according to Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, Ahmed Jamal.

Over the past 12 months thousands of Iraqis are estimated to have returned home from Europe, citing lack of economic opportunity due to language barriers, cold weather and cultural differences as the reasons for going back after often harrowing journeys by sea and land that can take weeks.

The Geneva-based International Organization for Migration says it helped nearly 3,500 Iraqis return from Europe in 2015 alone. But the OIM says that is just a fraction of the total estimated number as many individuals and families return by the own means.

In 2015, an estimated 70,000 Iraqis joined the tide of refugees and migrants making the thousands of miles long journey to Europe in an effort to escape war and poverty across Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, according to figures from the IOM.

"We are very pleased with the arrival," said Jamal, the foreign ministry spokesman in Baghdad. "Those people represent the first batch of Iraqi migrants in Finland who voluntarily wish to come back home."

The flight was organized by the Helsinki Police Department, which has organized flights for returning migrants for more than a decade and said they are ready to continue similar chartered flights between the two countries to meet a growing number of returning Iraqis, according to Detective Superintendent Hannu Pietila.

More than 3,100 Iraqis in Finland have withdrawn their asylum applications since January 2015, but most paid their own way back or caught flights organized by the European Union from other countries, Immigration officials in Finland said Thursday.

Last year, nearly 32,500 asylum-seekers arrived in Finland, a near tenfold increase over 2014. Some 20,500 were from Iraq.

"Thank God we came back home from Finland," said Amir Abas as he was collecting his luggage at the airport in Baghdad. "It is too difficult to live (in Finland) because our traditions and culture are different," he said.

Associated Press Writer Matti Huuhtanen in Helsinki, Finland, contributed to this report.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Calgary police union head to be criminally charged with perjury

    Canada News CBC News
    Calgary Police Association president Les Kaminski will be criminally charged with perjury, CBC News has learned. The charge relates to a 2008 case involving a man who was acquitted in part because a judge did not believe Kaminski was a credible or reliable witness. Source
  • Child dies after being attacked by two pit bulls

    World News Toronto Sun
    ATLANTA — Police say they have arrested the owner of two pit bulls that killed one child and injured another in southwest Atlanta. Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard says Cameron Tucker was arrested after the children were attacked while walking to a bus stop about 7:30 a.m. Source
  • Ex-Philadelphia mob boss 'Little Nicky' dies in prison

    World News Toronto Sun
    PHILADELPHIA — Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, whose reign over the Philadelphia Mafia in the 1980s was one of the bloodiest in its history, has died at a federal medical centre in North Carolina. He was 87. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Nancy Ayers says Scarfo died Saturday. Source
  • Confirmation hearing for Trump's interior nominee LIVE

    World News CBC News
    Updated Man charged after Milltown school, town hall, RCMP station torched Source
  • Police: Sisters taken 30 years ago found, mother arrested

    World News CTV News
    SCITUATE, R.I. -- Two sisters who disappeared from Rhode Island with their mother in 1985 have been located in the Houston area, and their mother was charged with snatching them, police announced on Tuesday. An anonymous tip two days before Christmas led police to Kimberly and Kelly Yates and their 69-year-old mother, Elaine, said Rhode Island State Police Lt. Source
  • Istanbul gunman confesses to attack: Turkish officials [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    ISTANBUL — A gunman suspected of killing 39 people during a New Year’s attack on an Istanbul nightclub has been caught in a police operation, Turkish media reports said early Tuesday. The suspect was captured in a special operations police raid on a house in Istanbul’s Esenyurt district, private NTV television reported. Source
  • LIVE: Garland's mother takes the stand

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    Relatives of Douglas Garland, charged with three counts of first-degree murder in the disappearances of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents, are taking the stand on the second day of his trial. Crown lawyer Vicki Faulkner told the court Monday, that four days after the disappearance of Alvin and Kathy Liknes and Nathan O’Brien, police found a smouldering burn barrel on Douglas Garland's parents' farm. Source
  • Naloxone kit saved possible overdose victim's life: Man. RCMP

    Canada News CTV News
    WINNIPEG - Mounties in Manitoba have administered the opioid antidote naloxone for the first time to help a young man suffering from a suspected fentanyl overdose. Police say they were called last Friday evening to a home in the southeast corner of the province, where they found the unconscious 20-year-old victim with a low pulse and breathing problems. Source
  • 'Mommy loves you, my angel': Woman posted to Facebook after killing daughter

    World News Toronto Sun
    PITTSBURGH — A Pittsburgh-area woman who wrote on Facebook that “Mommy loves you, my angel” after her 3-year-old daughter was found dead in a ravine was sentenced Tuesday to 20 to 40 years behind bars for killing her. Source
  • Corriveau sentencing on fraud conviction set for Jan. 25

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - An ex-Liberal organizer convicted of fraud related to the federal sponsorship scandal will be sentenced Jan. 25. Jacques Corriveau wasn't present in a Montreal courtroom today as lawyers finalized a division of his assets to repay the amount he owes the federal government. Source