TALLINN – The Estonian Refugee Council, which responded to a request from the Lithuanian Red Cross and last week took warm clothes, shoes and hygiene items to refugee camps on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, noted that conditions in the camps are inhumane.
According to workers posted to Lithuania, the situation in the camps in Lithuania is dismal. The conditions in the camps visited are deficient, both in human and legal terms. There are serious problems with, among other things, the provision of warm clothing and food, a safe environment for children, and access to legal aid, decent sanitation and health care, spokespeople for the Estonian Refugee Council said.
There have been documented situations where border guards assigned to guard the camps dehumanize refugees who have been victims of international power games. Interviews on the ground highlighted serious problems with people's mental health.
The Estonian Refugee Council is deeply concerned over Lithuania's decisions restricting people's access to the asylum system and based on which people are detained for an indefinite period of time.
At the beginning of September, the Estonian Refugee Council collected, with the help of the Sobralt Sobrale (From Friend to Friend) store chain, clothes, items of bedding and shoes, which according to the Lithuanian Red Cross are among the items needed the most in the 34 refugee camps.
With the help of donations collected in Estonia, humanitarian aid was sent to a collection point in Vilnius. Two refugee aid workers were also deployed to Lithuania using the donated money to support the day-to-day work of the Lithuanian Red Cross at camps near the border during the week.
Also during the week, two workers from the Estonian Refugee Council mapped the needs and conditions on the ground in the camps and collected people's stories.
With the advent of cold weather, the humanitarian crisis in Lithuania keeps deepening and the need for assistance remains. The Estonian Refugee Council collects donations to continue supporting the refugees in Lithuania via the website at https://www.pagulasabi.ee/toeta-meid .
More than 4,100 people from dozens of countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, have arrived in Lithuania across the Belarusian border. More than 1,000 of the people held in the camps, or 26 percent, are minors.