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Urgent European Commission assistance in curbing irregular migration from Belarus discussed

Date

2021 08 02

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Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has met with European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and has discussed the situation and the European Commission’s assistance in the face of the steady increase, with the assistance of the regime, in the flow of irregular migrants through Belarus to Lithuania.

‘Lukashenko is weaponizing migration to increase political pressure on the European Union in retaliation for its support for the democratic opposition in Belarus and for tougher Community sanctions for the hijacking of a passenger plane in May. This is a hybrid attack by the regime against the entire European Union; therefore, the response must be based on joint European action and our solidarity,’ the Prime Minister has emphasised.

The Head of Government has noted the deteriorating situation, which calls for urgent decisions at both national and EU level.

The Prime Minister has stressed that in the last two days alone, almost half a thousand irregular migrants had crossed the border.

It has been agreed at the meeting that joint efforts should first and foremost focus on reducing migratory flows, returning irregular migrants to their countries of origin, and urging Iraq to comply with its international obligations.

‘We are grateful to the President of the European Commission and to the European Commission as a whole for their active action, consideration, and speedy assistance. We trust that the European Commission will continue and increase its assistance to Lithuania with concrete measures in the face of the unprecedented challenge of irregular migration,’ said Prime Minister Šimonytė.

The Lithuanian Prime Minister has noted that Lithuania is bearing a significant financial burden. Hence possibilities of financial assistance from the European Commission, including technical assistance in installing border surveillance and control systems, have been discussed at the meeting.

According to Šimonytė, Lithuania is doing its utmost to ensure that irregular migrants are promptly detained and that no new transit route is created. The necessary legislative changes have been adopted to allow all planned asylum procedures to be carried out without delay.

The meeting has emphasised the need to prevent human trafficking, dismantle irregular migration networks, and deter migrants from attempting to cross the EU’s external border illegally.

The Lithuanian Prime Minister has emphasised that the Government does not see any alternative to creating a physical barrier. Lithuania is going to build it to properly protect the external border between Lithuania and the EU.

Lithuania has already detained more than 3 400 migrants, which is 44 times more than in 2020. The majority have come from Iraq, as well as from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Guinea, Iran, and Syria.