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Lithuania Extends State of Emergency at Belarus Border

The state of emergency at the border with Belarus and the migrant camps set up there has been extended until January 15; The Lithuanian parliament decided this week.

Such a measure came into effect in November when hundreds of migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan and the African continent, via Belarus, set up their camps on the border with the latter.

Under the state of emergency, Lithuanian governments are allowing border guards to use “mental coercion” and “relative physical violence” to prevent them from entering the Baltic state, reports.

In addition, border guards at the border with Belarus are allowed to ban travel within ten kilometers and can withdraw mobile phones from migrants, prohibiting private gatherings through the camps.

Strict border controls were reported to have been effective as Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonet revealed earlier that detections of illegal passages into Lithuania had decreased.

However, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry reported last week that about 10,000 illegal immigrants remain in Belarus, which means that until they return to their countries of origin, the risk of increased immigration rates in Lithuania is clear.

During the same meeting, the Lithuanian parliament canceled its proposal to declare a state of emergency at the border with Poland due to lawmakers describing the measure as excessive.

Currently, the eastern border is dealing with a migration crisis, as thousands of third-country nationals have come to Belarus to move towards the Western European region. Moreover, such crises were sparked by the conflict in Afghanistan, which was seized by Taliban forces earlier this year, with the majority of migrants fleeing death-threatening situations in their homeland.

Frontex, the European Union’s border agency, earlier revealed that the migration crisis at the eastern border has made this route even more affected by irregular migration, with an increase of 1,444 percent in the region since 2020.

Moreover, the Polish government intends to build a wall to prevent immigrants from entering the country. Although many detections are evident in Poland and Lithuania, most migrants head towards other countries, such as Germany and France.

Previously, the European Commission allocated 29.6 million euros to a fund for Lithuania to deal with migration management.

“The European Union Commission today provides 36.7 million euros in emergency aid to Lithuania to help the situation at the Belarus border where people continue to be used as political tools. The EU stands as one against such measures,” said Vice-President of the European Commission, Margaritis Schinas.

From January to October 2021, Lithuania accepted more than 4,124 cases of irregular immigration, indicating a clear increase compared to the 74 immigrants who entered the country in 2020.

>> COVID-19: Everything you need to know before traveling to Lithuania this winter

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