Migrants try to enter Lithuania at places without physical barrier – vicemin

  • 2022-07-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Irregular migrants are now trying to enter Lithuania from Belarus in areas without the physical barrier, Deputy Interior Minister Vitalijus Dmitrijevas says, also adding that migrants' countries of origin have also changed recently.

However, he says, the recent spike in the number of people trying to cross the border cannot yet be considered a long-term trend.

"We don’t see a particular trend from the two-day statistics right now, but we have already had several meetings on what we should pay attention to," he told BNS on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Lithuanian border guards pushed 81 migrants away at the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, which was the highest number so far this year. Also, 69 foreigners were turned away on Monday.

"The physical barrier is clearly stopping migrants, of course, but given the border specifics, there are non-fenced places where natural conditions are not favorable for that, or where more time is needed to build the barrier," the deputy minister said. "That's where such attempts to cross the border take place. Border guards are aware of those places and they respond."

Some 450 km of the physical barrier has been already built along Lithuania's border with Belarus, and also 350 km of the so-called concertina fence has already been installed. The physical barrier is 90 percent complete, and also modern border surveillance systems should be put in place by the end of this year, according to the latest information.

Lithuania's border with Belarus is almost 700 km long.

Dmitrijevas pays attention to the fact that migrants' repeated attempts to enter the border illegally are inflating the official statistics by several times.

In his words, officials have information that migrants have recently been entering Belarus from Russia, and their countries of origin are also changing as a higher proportion of irregular migrants are now coming from countries like Afghanistan and Syria.

In total, more than 10,700 irregular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus since August 2, 2021 when border guards were given the right to push back illegal migrants. Some foreigners, however, have attempted to enter Lithuania more than once.

Last year, almost 4,200 migrants entered Lithuania illegally from Belarus, with Vilnius accusing Belarus of having orchestrating the influx of migrants a year and calling it the Minsk regime's hybrid attack.