PPA: Belarus putting pressure on Lithuania with refugees

The Belarusian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia.
The Belarusian embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The increased flow of refugees to Lithuania is organized by the Belarusian authorities to put pressure on Lithuania, the Police and Border Guard Board's liaison officer, who has just returned from the country, told ERR.

Speaking to Vikerraadio's "Uudis +" program liaison officer Tarmo Kohv said: "It is clear that Belarus allows unhindered transit through its territory. There is no doubt that this is an activity facilitated by the authorities in order to put pressure on Lithuania."

Lithuania is currently experiencing an unprecedented increase in irregular migration, national broadcaster LRT wrote. Lithuanian officials believe that Belarusian authorities are involved in migrant smuggling. So far this year, more than 1,200 refugees have crossed the Lithuania border with Belarus and claimed asylum more than 10 times the number in 2020.

Kohv said building a large border fence is probably not the solution. "There is still a question here about the will of the neighboring country, whether or not this influx will be stopped," he said.

The officer, who visited the Lithuania-Belarus border last week, said the refugees are immediately requesting political asylum which is why Lithuania is forced to continue proceedings.

Kohv said there are mainly refugees from Iraq who are trying to enter the European Union through Lithuania and that their movements have also been observed on the Lithuanian-Polish border.

He added that many of the refugees could not read or write. Lithuania has opened a refugee camp and declared a state of emergency.

Kohv said Estonia must also monitor the situation and learn from this experience. 

LRT wrote about the experience of guarding Lithuania's eastern border here.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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