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Lithuania Extends State of Emergency at Belarus Border

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

Such a measure entered into force in November when hundreds of migrants from the Middle East, Afghanistan, and the African continent, through Belarus, set up their camps at the border with the latter.

Under the state of emergency status, the Lithuanian governments allow border guards to use “mental coercion” and “proportional physical violence” to withhold them from entering the Baltic country, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

In addition, border guards at the border with Belarus are allowed to ban travel to within ten kilometres and can take away mobile phones from migrants, and prohibit private gatherings across the camps.

The stringent border control is reported to be efficient as the Lithuanian Prime Minister, Ingrida Simonyte, earlier revealed that detections of illegal passages to Lithuania have decreased.

However, last week, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry reminded that about 10,000 illegal migrants were still in Belarus, implying that until they return to their home countries, the risk of increasing migratory rates in Lithuania is evident.

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

At present, the Eastern border is dealing with a migration crisis, as thousands of third-country nationals have come to Belarus to move towards the Western Europe region. Moreover, such crises have been flared up by the conflict in Afghanistan, which was captured by Taliban forces earlier this year, as the majority of migrants are escaping death-threatening situations in their home country.

Frontex, the EU border agency, previously revealed that the migration crisis in the Eastern border made this route most affected by irregular migration, as an increase of 1444 per cent has been noted in the region since 2020.

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

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

“The EU_Commission is today giving €36.7 million in emergency assistance to Lithuania to help with the situation at the Belarus border where people continue to be used as political instruments. The EU stands as one against such actions,” the Vice President of the EU Commission, Margaritis Schinas, said.

From January to October 2021, Lithuania admitted more than 4,124 irregular migration cases, which notes an obvious surge compared to 74 migrants that entered the country in 2020.

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