A first team of six security guards from the European Union’s border agency, Frontex, began work in Lithuania today after the Baltic state announced another sharp rise in migrants arriving from Belarus, AFP reported.
The Lithuanian Border Service clarified that in the last 24 hours alone they have detained 150 migrants – almost twice as many as in the whole of 2020.
This has led to a total number of illegal crossings detected by migrants, most of them from the Middle East, to over 800 so far this year.
Throughout 2020, there are 81 detected crossings.
“The situation is tense and tends to get worse,” Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told AFP, adding: “The foreign ministry’s goal is clear – economic migrants crossing the EU border illegally must be returned to have left.”
The government, which strongly opposes Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, has stressed that it suspects authorities in the neighboring country allow migrants across the border.
European Parliament President David Sasolli also expressed “concern” today about the situation on the border between Belarus and Lithuania.
“Once again, someone is unacceptably playing with people’s lives,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the Lithuanian military set up several tents for migrants to cope with the growing number.
The number of Frontex border guards on the border with Belarus is expected to increase to 30 later this month.
Lithuania wants to build a wall on the border with Belarus to curb the flow of migrants. This was announced on Wednesday at a press conference by Prime Minister Ingrida Simonite, quoted by Reuters.
“We will start building an additional physical barrier that separates Lithuania and Belarus, and this will become a clear sign and a definite deterrent for those who organize the flow of illegal migrants,” she said.
The country will also use the army to step up border patrols. Belarus has allowed a move to Lithuania in response to European Union sanctions.
Earlier, the EU sent a team of security guards from Frontex to Lithuania after the Baltic state announced another sharp rise in migrants arriving from Belarus.