In the past 24 hours, three groups of illegal migrants were detained by border guards; the foreigners attempted to enter the country from the territory of Belarus, the Lithuanian border service reported on Tuesday morning.
58 foreigners were detained on June 21-22, including 54 Iraqis and 4 Sri Lankans. All of them are seeking asylum in Lithuania.
Since the beginning of the year, a total of 498 illegal migrants have come to Lithuania through the Belarusian-Lithuanian border, which is six times more than for the whole year of 2020. Last year, 81 illegal migrants were apprehended by Lithuanian officers, in 2019 – 46. The Lithuanian authorities even started to consider erecting a fence on the border to strengthen the defence.
Among the people detained at the Belarusian-Lituanian border in 2021, there are 323 Iraqis, 46 citizens of Iran, 42 – Syria, 39 – Belarus, 13 – Russia, 11 – Turkey, 10 – Sri Lanka, 6 – Tajikistan, 3 – Afghanistan, 2 – Yemen, 2 – Egypt, 1 – Somalia.
In mid June, Lithuania’s Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė appealed to the country’s Prosecutor General’s Office, drawing the agency’s attention to the illegal movement of people across the Belarusian-Lithuanian border.
“Migrants from third countries have been crossing the border illegally for several weeks, and we do see the signs indicating that this might be done in an organised way,” she said.
Belarus delivers Syrians and Iraqis from Istanbul and Baghdad to its territory using the national tour operator Tsentrkurort, then so-called ‘tourists’ are taken to the border from Minsk, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis suggested last week. It should be recalled that in response to Western sanctions imposed on the regime, Alyaksandr Lukashenka threatened to loosen control over the flow of migrants at the border with the European Union.