Lithuania declares state of emergency because of migrant flood


Eastern Europe


Lithuania's Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite. photo EPA, Julien Warnand

Lithuania has declared a state of emergency to deal with the unusual number of refugees crossing the Belarussian border into Lithuania, Bloomberg reports.

According to the Home Affairs Minister Agne Bilotaite, the decision is not because of an increased threat to the country, but to implement a more robust system to handle the migrants entering, writes news agency AP. “It’s very important to have a legal system and instruments (...) to be able to swiftly make decisions in response to arising challenges”, Bilotaite said during a government meeting Friday evening.

The state of emergency comes after about 150 immigrants crossed the border from Belarus into Lithuania illegally on Friday. That is three times higher than the previous single day record. According to Bloomberg, the Belarussian regime is retaliating against European Union sanctions against President Alexander Lukashenko by sending floods of migrants over the border into the European Union.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen paid a visit to the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on Friday and vowed to help the Baltic EU member state to cope with the influx of migrants.

“Your worries and your problems here in Lithuania are European worries and problems,” von der Leyen said in a joint news conference with the Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, according to Euronews. “We really stand by your side in this difficult time.”

Von der Leyen promised assistance from Frontex, EU’s border guard agency, which said on Thursday said that it would deploy border guard teams not only to Lithuania but also to Latvia. This Baltic neighbour also shares a border with Belarus.


According to the Lithuanian newspaper Republika, most of the migrants are detained peacefully. During one detention, however, eight migrants behaved aggressively and tried to attack the firewall patrols. As a result, tear gas was used, two warning shots were fired into the air, and the disobedient were laid on the ground and handcuffed.

All the migrants will be tested for Covid-19 and isolated until the results are available. After that, the Lithuanian government will review their asylum applications.

This year, 938 illegal migrants from Belarus tried to enter Lithuania. According to Republika, this figure is almost 12 times higher than it was throughout 2020. Last year, 81 migrants were detained at the Lithuanian border.



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