Estonia planning to send assistance to Lithuanian-Belarusian border

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PPA lettering (picture is illustrative). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia is planning to send additional "officials and equipment" to Lithuania to help control the country's eastern border after a recent increase in migrants trying to cross the EU's eastern border.

Estonia will send assistance through the European Union border guard agency Frontex. The plan must be approved by the government on Tuesday (June 22).  

"The European Border and Coast Guard Agency has indeed turned to the member states, including Estonia, to involve additional support in guarding the Lithuanian border. Support was requested in the form of additional officials and equipment, which Estonia, among others, is offering to Lithuania," Helen Neider-Veerme, adviser on strategic border management cooperation at the Police and Border Guard Board, told ERR on Monday.

She said more detail could not be given at this time due to security reasons.

Neider-Veerme said Frontex constantly monitors the situation on the EU's borders and is ready to send additional officials or equipment to each member state if the situation changes. 

There has been a big increase in the number of migrants trying to illegally enter the EU via the Lithuanian border from Belarus. Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko previously said he would no longer stop "drugs and migrants" after sanctions were placed on the country following the forced grounding of a Vilnius-bound Ryanair flight in Minsk.

Lithuania's officials have alleged that Belarusian officers are complicit in facilitating the crossings.

National broadcaster LRT reported that, so far this year, 405 people have arrived in Lithuania over the border compared to 81 last year, 46 in 2019 and 104 in 2018. It has been reported that most people are from Iraq and Lithuania has opened a new refugee camp.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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