Kurdish amputee boy finds asylum in Belarus after fighting deportation
The refugee crisis on the EU-Belarus border has produced poignant stories of loss and despair. Most of the hundreds of families are from Iraqi Kurdistan. After multiple pleas, an amputee child was lucky enough to be granted asylum.
Nine-year-old double amputee Taman, a brilliant kid from the Kurdish region of Iraq, first appeared online on November 16 in a cellphone recording in which his brother and father appealed to the Portuguese football player , Cristiano Ronaldo, and the world, for help.
The minute of the long recording features a happy Taman, modeling his prosthetic limbs and playing with his 11-year-old brother in the marshy swamps on the border between Poland and Belarus.
The urgent appeal came at a time of grave uncertainty. The family’s short-lived joy after arriving safely at the border on November 8 has been displaced by the terrifying prospect of being sent back to northern Iraq.
“No one leaves the house, unless the house is the mouth of a shark”
The family had originally traveled to Minsk via Dubai, en route to Germany after a hospital offered to treat Taman’s disease of bone which resulted in a bilateral amputation below the knee.
A hair is all that stood between the family’s dream of a dignified life for Taman, and the nightmare of deportation – a life sentence that would deprive Taman of the medical care and attention he needs, and the right to live life like any child their age.
Behind the reserved and calm demeanor of Taman’s brother, a migration crisis was brewing along the wooded and secure Belarusian-Polish border.
As the world debated whether to raise the drawbridge or free the gates of Fortress Europe, the nightmarish scenario of deportation drew near for the Taman family.
At the time, European media and social media accounts sparked a war of words, cocking the term “migrant” and describing families fleeing war and poverty as “criminals”.
Despite this demonization, many commentators noted that these speeches failed to erase the memory of the foreign policy blunders that rocked every Iraqi family – Arab, Kurdish or otherwise, in one way or another.
On December 5, a photograph posted on Twitter reportedly showed Taman at Minsk airport, awaiting deportation, masked, twiddling his thumb, with a glassy look of fear in his eyes.
A source close to the family said The New Arabic that the family had been forcibly taken the same day by Belarusian soldiers and transported to the airport pending their “repatriation”.
A few days earlier, on November 24, Polish border guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska reported that she had documented 36,000 attempts by migrants to enter Poland illegally.
Some 2,500 were arrested and 200 were repatriated, mainly to Iraq.
Others were less fortunate.
Private Kurdish point of sale, al-Shafaq reported on November 19 that a 25-year-old migrant had died of “cold and hunger” as a result of the extreme weather conditions endured by migrants who set up slum settlements dotting the border.
On the same day, 430 more people were repatriated to northern Iraq, some of whom had already made the same perilous journey several times.
“While many families from the Kurdish region of Iraq have been sent home, and many more will undoubtedly try to flee again, fewer and luckier families like Taman’s are are on the long road to resettlement “
The logic behind this catch-22 loop is best described by British Somali poet Warsan Shire who states that “no one leaves the house unless the house is the mouth of a shark.”
A source close to the family said The New Arabic that aid workers had helped the family and acted as interlocutors between them and the authorities, and with that, the family successfully fought the deportation order, which Belarus finally revoked on December 6.
The family are currently residing in the capital, Minsk, while their asylum claim is processed.
On December 2, the European Council announced its decision to impose sanctions on senior politicians in the Lukashenko Belavia Airlines government, tour operators and hotels which they claim have instigated and organized illegal border activities and “instrumentalised” the crisis. migrants for political purposes. .
In retaliation for EU sanctions, the government of Belarus introduced a ban on Western commodities and introduced other restrictive measures targeting British and European airlines.
While many families in the Kurdish region of Iraq have been sent home and many more will no doubt try to flee again, fewer and luckier families like Taman’s have embarked on the long run. path of resettlement where they will take root and live in peace and harmony.
Nazli Tarzi is a freelance journalist, whose writings and films focus on the ancient history of Iraq and the contemporary political scene.