VILNIUS - Lithuania could voluntarily take in a dozen or several dozen refugees from Italy as the southern country is facing a large influx of refugees, Interior Vice Minister Arnoldas Abramavicius says, adding that a government commission will decide on the matter.
His comment on Thursday came in response to reports that a large number of illegal migrants have recently arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa.
Some 8,500 people have reportedly landed on the island in just three days, and the total number has already exceeded 133,000 this year, which is almost double from the same period last year.
According to Abramavicius, data presented at a meeting in Brussels on Thursday shows that a total of 114,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, compared to 88,000 last year.
"It would probably be possible to relocate or offer to relocate several dozen people to Lithuania, and the prime minister has made a similar point that Lithuania should not withdraw from voluntary solidarity," the vice minister told BNS. "We'll see how the situation develops further, and it is our duty to demonstrate solidarity to some extent, but only in a voluntary way, which is the most important thing."
The existing discussions simply have to do with solidarity aid to Italy the vice minister said.
"In this case, we should calm down as the existing situation has now really nothing to do with some kind of binding mechanism or the quotas that were set by the Commission in 2015," Abramavicius said.
"So, in this case several dozen, I mean, but not hundreds. Ten maybe or twenty (people – BNS), that could be a commitment on our part," he said.
Nevertheless, the deputy minister pointed out that the exact numbers would be decided by the government's Migration Commission, but there have been no preparations for this commission's meeting yet.
Moreover, Abramavicius stressed, only people who do not pose a threat to national security and who are fleeing persecution, and are not economic migrants, would be moved to Lithuania.