Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite has ordered border guards to repel, with force if needed, illegal migrants as the European Union border agency has claimed Belarus is helping illegals cross the EU border.
Head of Lithuania’s border guard Rustamas Liubajevas said on Tuesday: “Anyone who attempts to enter the territory of the Republic of Lithuania illegally shall be refused entry and shall be directed to the nearest operational international border control point.”
According to a report from the EU-funded website InfoMigrants, the Lithuanian interior minister granted border guards the power to use force to repel migrants and divert them to official border crossings, where they are then able to claim asylum.
NGOs have criticised the policy, arguing it is a violation of the Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and stated that Belarus was not a safe country to return migrants to.
EU Commissioner Accuses Belarus of Using Migrants to Blackmail Europe https://t.co/AmLu6csmqB
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 15, 2021
Frontex, the European Union border agency, released alleged drone footage from the EU’s common external border along the frontier between Lithuania and Belarus this week, claiming it had evidence that Belarusian authorities were directly helping migrants cross over illegally.
Since June, the Belarusian government led by Alexander Lukashenko has also been accused of flying in around 4,000 migrants directly from Iraq to the Belarusian capital of Minsk before allowing them to head to the EU border.
German tabloid Bild has reported that the German Federal Foreign Office has condemned the actions of Belarus and the Iraqi airline involved, while former Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius described it as an “act of hybrid aggression”.
Last month, the Iraqi government pledged to investigate the allegations that Belarus was flying in migrants, with Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein stating that his government “will not accept smugglers in our society”.
EU Home Affairs and Migration Commissioner Ylva Johansson has also commented on the ongoing situation, accusing Belarus of attempting to blackmail the European Union.
Iraq Govt Investigates ‘Plan to Smuggle Iraqis Into Europe’ via Belarus as Lithuania Battles Mini Migrant Crisis https://t.co/qnrKVJPReU
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 16, 2021