Relocating migrants in Estonia not going ahead without Lithuania's request

Lithuanian-Belarusian border.
Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Source: D. Umbraso/LRT

The government will not discuss any possible request for assistance from Lithuania for the relocation of migrants who have arrived there from Belarus, until a formal request has been received.

"As of today, Lithuania has not made any request to relocate migrants who have arrived in Lithuania as part of a politically driven migration drive, and the government will discuss it when the request is sent," government spokeswoman Mariann Sudakov told ERR on Friday.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonyte said earlier in the week that the government is discussing the possibility of asking EU countries for help in accommodating migrants who have come across the Belarusian border. Šimonyte said that Lithuania intends to request assistance when managing migration flows becomes difficult. "It is being discussed, but at first I cannot say when the state will make such a request. But if the situation becomes difficult to manage, of course, we will ask for help," Šimonyte said on Monday.

Minister of the Interior Kristian Jaani (Center) also referred to waiting for Lithuania's official request. "As of today, the Estonian state has not received such a request for help. Our goal today is to provide as much assistance to Lithuania as possible so that Lithuania can meet the challenge it currently has on its territory," Jaani told ERR on Tuesday.

Sudakov said that Estonia is also currently focusing on helping Lithuania to cope with the crisis itself. "However, Estonia is also ready to help when a direct threat to its security arises. The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is prepared for dealing with mass immigration," the government spokesman confirmed.

The details of any possible placement of migrants in Estonia would be handled by the Ministry of the Interior.

Lithuania, which has been one of the strongest critics of the regime of Alexander Lukashenko, leader of its eastern neighbor Belarus, has come under pressure in recent months from almost 4,000 migrants arriving over the border. The arrivals originate mainly from Iraq, but also from other Middle-Eastern and African countries. The arrivals reportedly come to Minsk Airport, whence they are taken to the border, less than 100km away, by the Belarusian authorities and directed towards Lithuania. Crossing the border is simplified by the fact that Lithuania has not yet built a border infrastructure. The country's capital, Vilnius, lies just 30km from the border.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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