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Lithuania Declares State of Emergency Due to Influx of Migrants From Belarus

The recent influx of migrants from Belarus who tried to reach Lithuania, led the authorities of the latter to declare a state of emergency.

According to local Lithuanian reports, the increase in the number of migrants heading to Lithuania is caused by tensions between the European Union and Belarus, reports.

The Lithuanian Interior Minister Agel Belutait considered the decision proposed by the State Border Guard Service necessary.

According to the minister, the decision was necessary not because of the growing threat to the country but to impose a more robust system in order to deal with incoming immigrants.

“It is essential to have the legal system and the tools … to be able to make decisions quickly in response to emerging challenges,” Pilotite noted during a government meeting on Friday.

Earlier, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko warned that the eastern European country will retaliate against EU sanctions imposed on his government by losing border checks of illegal immigrants.

European Union member states have tightened sanctions against Belarus after the Belarusian president forced a passenger plane to divert and land in order to arrest 26-year-old dissident journalist Roman Protacevic.

Shortly after the flight was diverted, the Council of the European Union announced that it had tightened the restrictive measures related to the situation in Belarus.

The Council imposed a ban on overflying the airspace of the European Union and the access of Belarusian airlines to European Union airports.

According to the Cabinet of Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonetti, the state of emergency was declared after border officials reported on Friday that they had detained nearly 150 Belarusians who tried to illegally reach Lithuania.

Border controls in Lithuania and Latvia were tightened recently as the authorities of the two countries received border guard teams deployed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

More than 400 people tried to enter Lithuania from Belarus last month, six times the numbers recorded in the whole of 2020.

Although Latvia did not record such figures, the Baltic state also requested assistance from Frontex to tighten controls on its borders.

According to the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), in September last year, the number of Belarusians seeking international protection in EU countries saw an increase of 7 percent compared to August figures. The significant increase in the number of applications came after Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected to his sixth term as President of Belarus.

Lukashenko won the election with 80 percent of the vote.

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