VILNIUS – The European Commission has allocated almost 10 million euros for Lithuania to strengthen its refugee reception system, with the money to be used to upgrade the accommodation infrastructure and implement other projects, the Social Security and Labor Ministry said on Monday.
The ministry won the call for projects together with the Refugee Reception Centre (RRC), the State Border Guard Service (SBGS), and the municipal administrations of the district of Taurage and the city of Panevezys.
The project aims to bolster the capacity of the EU's external border and ensure reception and accommodation conditions for arriving refugees, the ministry said in a press release.
"This additional investment from the European Commission is of paramount importance to enable the responsible authorities to create decent conditions for persons arriving in Lithuania and seeking asylum," Deputy Social Security and Labor Minister Justina Jakstiene said.
"Lithuania must remain open and safe for asylum seekers," she added.
Lithuania saw a surge in illegal immigration in 2021 due to an influx of irregular migrants from Belarus.
The project will involve upgrading the RRC and SBGS infrastructure for accommodation of asylum seekers.
Additional investments to be made in renovating the Foreigners' Registration Center in Kybartai to ensure that it can cope with a potential increase in migration flows, according to the ministry.
Plans also call for expanding storage and transportation infrastructure at the RRC in Rukla.
The project will also see additional investments in creating accommodation for refugees in the city of Panevezys and the district of Taurage.
According to Jakstiene, Lithuania must be prepared for various scenarios, as geopolitical tensions in the region, the energy and food crises, and the effects of climate change may have a strong impact on migration flows to the country in the future.