Lithuania is going to build a fence on the border with Belarus to stop the uncontrolled flow of illegal migrants. The Seimas, the Lithuanian Parliament, has agreed to the €150 million package to protect the eastern border.
The Baltic country has been experiencing an increasing influx of illegal migrants from Belarus since June. 4100 people entered the country through Belarus this year, fifty times more than in 2020.
Other EU neighbours of Belarus are also being raided by a sharply increasing migration. Poland saw three times as many migrants crossing the border illegally last weekend as it was in the entire 2020, and in Latvia, where 160 migrants were arrested, the government has declared a state of emergency in the border region.
Revenge for sanctions
According to the countries, the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko deliberately lets migrants pass through in retaliation for European sanctions against his regime. The Polish Deputy Minister of Interior spoke of a “hybrid war” last week, using “immigrants as a living weapon”.
Lukashenko never denied the allegations. This spring, he hinted at letting migrants through as revenge for sanctions. According to Lithuania, Belarus even actively picks migrants from Iraq. The migrants would be escorted to the western border from Minsk Airport.
Correspondent Saskia Dekkers previously joined Nieuwsuur on a patrol with the Lithuanian border guard:
Lithuanian and European politicians recently had talks with the Iraqi authorities in the hope of halting the migration flow. Two thirds of migrants crossing the border over the past few weeks have Iraqi nationality.
The Iraqi aviation authority announced this weekend that all passenger flights to Belarus are deleted. According to the news agency DPA, the country raises 200 Iraqi citizens today. According to Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis, some 300 Iraqis have indicated that they want to return to their country.
The European Commission says that it appreciates Iraqs position and hopes that the deletion of flights will be a solution to the migration crisis. The inflow seems to be halted: the Lithuanian Border Guard has not reported on migrants illegally crossing the border in recent days.
It is still unclear what should happen to the thousands of migrants arrested. Because Lithuania, like Latvia and Poland, has relatively small asylum facilities, the migrants have been welcomed in lashy tented camps in poor conditions.