Migrant Tales had the opportunity to speak to Iraqi Ambassador to Finland, Matheel Dhayif Al-Sabti, on Wednesday about Iraq’s official policy towards deportation of its national: “I’m saying that Iraq will not accept forced deportations.”
When asked how many Iraqis were deported to Iraq against their will, he stated: “I have no idea because they didn’t deport any person. I think they cannot do that.”
This same position concerning deportations was reiterated over the weekend by the Iraqi minister of migration & displaced, Derbaz Muhammad, who said that “the Iraqi government and the Iraqi ministry of migration & displacement won’t accept the return of displaced Iraqis in Finland forcibly, only if they return willingly.”
Talks between the ministry of migration & displaced and Finnish permanent secretary of the interior ministry, Päivi Nerg, ended in December without an agreement, according to an official statement.
An Iraqi delegation led by the undersecretary of foreign affairs will meet with Nerg in February to discuss the matter. It is, however, unlikely that both sides will reach an agreement on a repatriation accord.
The statement by Ambassador Al-Sabti and by his government runs contrary to earlier optimistic statements by ministry of interior officials like Nerg and Foreign Minister Timo Soini that an agreement on deporting a vast number of Iraqis would be possible.
“So, now there is nothing that Finland can do anything to those people [whom they hope to deport],” he continued. “Do you know why? If they want to deport them they will have to put them not on commercial flights like Turkish Airlines, they’ll have to hire an airplane guarded by the police [and] put them by force in the airplane and send them to Baghdad.”
The ambassador states unequivocally that Iraq will not give such a flight permission to land in that country.
“The Iraqi authorities, first of all, they [planeload of deportees] will not have permission to fly from Finland to Baghdad and get permission to land,” he said. “Secondly, if they put them on commercial flights they [deported asylum seekers] will not be accepted at Baghdad International Airport. And then [there’s also another reason], because there is no [repatriation] treaty, no MOU [memorandum of understanding] between Iraq and Finland.”
Contrary to Afghanistan, which signed a repatriation agreement in October with the European Union to deport its citizens back to the war-torn country, it’s doubtful that any such agreement will be signed in the foreseeable future between Finland and Iraq.
When asked why doesn’t Iraq follow Afghanistan’s example in signing such a repatriation agreement, the ambassador states that “Afghanistan is Afghanistan. It has nothing to do with us.”
Iraqi Ambassador Matheel Dhayif Al-Sabti.
Al-Sabti lays some of the blame on the EU for allowing so many people to come to Europe from countries like Iraq in 2015. According to him, Finland should treat the Iraqis in this country as guests and not threaten them with deportation.
“And many times I said to accept them as guests in your country because you know of the situation now in our country and the best thing is to leave them [here] now,” he said, adding that if the EU and Finland controlled their borders they wouldn’t have the present problem.