In retaliation for the economic sanctions imposed by the European Union, Belarus suspended its agreement with Brussels on Monday (June 28), leading to an influx of migrants into the EU, while Belarus’ neighbor Lithuania declared a state of emergency on Friday in response to the pressure of the influx.
The Associated Press reports that Lithuanian Interior Minister Agle Bilotaite noted that the state of emergency order was issued not because the influx of migrants would pose a further threat to Lithuania’s 2.8 million people, but because they intended to establish a sound method to better deal with the influx.
Lithuania’s border with Belarus is 679 kilometers long, and Lithuanian border officials noted that they intercepted about 150 illegal immigrants at the national border that day after the state of emergency was decreed.
Lithuania has intercepted 822 migrants who entered the country illegally from Belarus this year, much higher than the 81 who entered in 2020. Some of the migrants are nationals of Afghanistan, Cameroon, Iraq and Syria, who have flocked to Lithuania in an attempt to seek asylum.
The EU has promised to assist Lithuania in dealing with this wave of migrants, saying they will send additional staff from the EU Border Agency (Frontex) to assist at the Libyan border, and will also send staff to Latvia, another neighbor of Belarus.