Riga, Sep 22 (EFE).- Lithuania on Wednesday said it would welcome asylum applications at its embassy in Minsk, after closing its borders with Belarus to stem a flow of migrants mainly coming from the Middle East, according to the state-run BNS.
The move is aimed at discouraging attempts of “irregular” crossings of the Belarus-Lithuanian border, closed since August.
On the border, some 2,200 people have been denied entry and around 80 people allowed into Lithuania, according to the Interior Ministry and the State Border Guard Service.
Local media report that there have been practically no attempts to enter Lithuania through regular border crossings as Belarusian guards prevent and force migrants to cross elsewhere.
This, however, burdens the Lithuanian side with finding and preventing them from crossing and possibly creating distressing humanitarian situations, according to the same sources.
Lithuania has already hosted over 4,100 migrants, mostly from Iraq, who entered the country in the summer.
Officials have described this situation as “hybrid warfare” using asylum seekers or tourists as tools of Belarusian strong man president Alexander Lukashenko’s retribution for the European Union’s sanctions against his regime.
The migrants arrived after Minsk eased visa requirements and encouraged charter flights with potential asylum seekers from the Middle East, a practice now largely stopped under pressure on airlines from the EU.
Neighboring Latvia and Poland have also faced irregular migrant flows from Belarus, forcing them into emergency measures to stop them, granting entry only to vulnerable people, such as pregnant women, families with small children and the elderly.
A video that has been circulating in Latvia a family, allowed to enter the country, saying they were allegedly intimidated into crossing into the Baltic country after arriving in Belarus from Iraq on tourist visas for vacation.