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Iraqi PM meets European Commission's Vice-President over migrant crisis

 
Baghdad, Nov 16 (IANS) Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi received European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas at his office on Monday to discuss the stranded Iraqi migrants in several European countries.

During the meeting, al-Kadhimi stressed the importance of taking all "necessary joint measures to preserve the security and safety of Iraqi citizens and work to avoid any Iraqi becoming a victim of human trafficking networks," Xinhua news agency quoted al-Kadhimi's media office as saying in a statement.

"The Iraqi government is working to bring back all stranded Iraqis voluntarily," al-Kadhimi was quoted as saying.

For his part, Schinas confirmed the European Union's support for Iraq, praising the early measures taken by Iraq in combating human trafficking, and stressed the importance of cooperation to bring back the stranded Iraqi migrants, according to the statement.

On Friday, Iraq's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the suspension of direct flights to Belarus to protect Iraqi migrants from human trafficking gangs.

Ahmed al-Sahaf, spokesman of Iraq's foreign ministry, said that Iraqi embassies in Russia and Poland are coordinating efforts for the voluntary return of the Iraqi migrants.

Thousands of migrants are gathering on the Belarusian side of the border in an attempt to enter Poland and then Germany to seek asylum in the EU countries.

--IANS
int/shs