Lithuania registers record number of migrants due to crisis with Belarus

Riga, Latvia, Jul 28 (EFE).- The number of people that illegally crossed into Lithuania from Belarus surpassed a record figure of 3,000 this year, according to a report by the State Border Guard Service published Wednesday.

The SBGS said that with the 171 migrants registered on Tuesday, a total of 3,027 people, of whom 1,910 came from Iraq, have crossed into the Baltic nation since the beginning of the year.

Lithuanian authorities claim the influx of migrants from the Middle East as a deliberate act by Belarus to send irregular migrants to the territory of this Baltic republic.

The latest figures represent a substantial increase from the 1,700 irregular crossings recorded just two weeks ago, when the Lithuanian Parliament passed emergency laws to speed up the resolution of asylum requests and allow for the detention of up to six months for those arriving in the country.

The latest figures from the SBGS came as officials of the border guard service warned that thousands of potential migrants could be gathering near the Belarus-Lithuanian border with the intention of crossing it.

“We know that in Grodno now about a couple of thousand illegal migrants may be waiting to cross the border,” deputy commander of the SBGS, Vidas Macaitis, told ‘delfi.It’ news website.

The possibility of more migrants arriving and being housed at military bases in Lithuania has already led to protests and clashes with police near a planned site for a tent camp in southeastern Lithuania.

Eight people were detained for blocking a road to the campsite on Monday while demonstrators gathered and were dispersed on Tuesday when police had to tow away a car deliberately blocking the road to prevent trucks from delivering equipment to the campsite, local media reported.

The protestors say they are afraid setting up tent camps will attract more irregular migrants and may bring crime and disorder to their rural communities.END


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