As tensions between Brussels and Minsk heat up, the number of immigrants and refugees from Belarus to Lithuania, a member of the European Union, hit a record high.
The first team of six guards from Frontex, the EU border agency, began work in Lithuania on Friday, as the Baltic States reported that as tensions between the EU and Minsk rose, migrants and refugees from Belarus increased sharply again .
The Lithuanian Border Service stated that in the past 24 hours, it has detained 150 immigrants and refugees, almost twice as many as in 2020.
So far this year, the total number of illegal border crossings detected along their common 680 km (420 mi) border has exceeded 800. In 2020, 81 border crossing points were detected.
The Lithuanian government, which strongly opposes the Belarusian long-term president Alexander Lukashenko, said it suspects that the Belarusian government allows immigrants and refugees to pass through the border.
Lukashenko had previously warned that since Minsk forcibly transferred a passenger plane in May and subsequently arrested his government’s relationship with Brussels, Lukashenko will no longer try to stop illegal immigrants and refugees from other countries. Influx into the European Union. Dissident reporters on board.
“The situation is tense and there is a tendency to worsen,” Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told AFP.
“The goal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is clear-economic migrants who cross the EU border illegally must return to where they left off,” he said.
‘Play with people’s lives’
Two weeks ago, the Lithuanian military set up several tents for immigrants and refugees, most of which were reported to be from the Middle East to cope with the increasing numbers.
It is expected that the number of Frontex border guards deployed on the Belarusian border will increase to 30 later this month.
The President of the European Parliament David Sassoli expressed “concerns” about the situation there on Friday.
He tweeted: “Once again someone is playing with people’s lives in an unacceptable way.”
I am concerned about the influx of migrants on the Belarus-Lithuanian border.
Once again someone is playing unacceptably with people’s lives.
Obviously, throughout Europe, whether in the south or the east, we need a common asylum and immigration system to deal with crises.
— David Sassoli (@EP_President) July 2, 2021
As Ryanair’s plane was forced to land in Minsk, the European Union imposed far-reaching economic sanctions on Belarus, and Belarus withdrew from the so-called European Partnership Program. Through this program, the European Union seeks to work more closely with several former Soviet Union countries. Cooperation. Western powers and Russia compete for influence.
Last year, Lukashenko was re-elected for a sixth term in the August 2020 elections, which triggered months of protests. Belarus was shaken and opponents generally condemned the election for manipulation.
The authorities carried out a massive suppression of the demonstrations, thousands of people were arrested and police brutality was reported.
Most of Lukashenko’s opponents are now either in prison or have fled the country.
At the same time, according to the Belarusian National News Agency, Lukashenko ordered the complete closure of the border between Belarus and neighboring Ukraine on Friday for security reasons.
According to the Belarusian News Agency, he said at a rally commemorating the country’s Independence Day that a rebel organization planning a coup had been discovered in Belarus.
“A large number of weapons are being shipped from Ukraine to Belarus. This is why I ordered the border security forces to completely close the border with Ukraine,” Lukashenko said.