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Frontex Helps Lithuania & Latvia to Control Their Borders With Belarus

Border control between Lithuania and Latvia with Belarus will receive border guard teams deployed by Frontex, the European Border Agency and Coast Guard. The move follows a request from the two member states in June due to a significant increase in illegal border crossings from Belarus in recent weeks, reports.

According to a press release from the agency, the officers of the European Border Guard Corps and the European Coast Guard will support Latvia and Lithuania in border control, which will begin by deploying ten officers with patrol cars initially.

“The rapid deployment of support to Lithuania and Latvia highlights the value of the Standing Frontex Corps, which allows the agency to respond quickly to unexpected challenges, bringing European solidarity to support member states at the external borders,” said Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of Frontex. .

He also said that this cooperation shows the determination to protect the external borders.

More than 400 people attempted to illegally cross into Lithuania from Belarus in June, six times the total number recorded in all of 2020. Although Latvia has not seen such numbers, it has also asked Frontex for support as a border protection measure.

Previously, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) revealed that the number of Belarusians applying for asylum increased by seven percent in September, compared to the previous month. This increase in the number of applications comes after Alexander Lukashenko won the elections with 80 percent of the vote and was elected president for the sixth term, which led to many protests and rallies.

In September 2020, Lithuania granted permission to 205 Belarusians whose country was facing protests and rallies over the election of President Lukashenko. A month later, Lithuania accepted another 507 Belarusians on humanitarian grounds.

Recently, Frontex reported that nearly 10,500 people tried to enter Europe illegally through its external borders during the month of May, double the number in the same period last year.

The agency has also launched Operation Minerva, through which three Spanish ports will be under surveillance this summer.

Frontex will deploy guard officers at the ports of Algeciras, Tarifa and Ceuta, to prevent attempts to cross the border illegally to enter Spanish territory. Operation Minerva will run until September 2021.

According to the European Court of Auditors (ECA), Frontex was not sufficiently effective in helping EU member states and Schengen area countries to exercise the border control support provided was not sufficient to combat illegal immigration and embargoes.

Although Frontex’s mission is to tackle EU border infractions, such as terrorism, trafficking and migrant smuggling, the report reveals that the agency has not addressed these irregularities multiple times.

Frontex launched a mandate in 2016 to help EU member states combat illegal immigration and cross-border crime. However, as revealed by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), this mandate has not been fully implemented.

The European Union’s border agency has also been accused of erratic analysis of its performance or of being transparent in presenting the actual costs of its operations. According to the reviewers, the last external evaluation of the agency was published in 2015.

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