The embattled Belarusian dictator has made good on his threat to flood the European Union with migrants by sending hundreds of Iraqis on ‘package holidays’ to neighbouring Lithuania in retaliation for sanctions.
Lithuania, an EU nation which shares a 700-kilometre border with Belarus, felt the pain days after Alexander Lukashenko issued the threat in late May.
Local border guards, who used to catch a few dozen trespassers a year, started to stumble upon groups of several dozen people every day, who would surrender and say they were looking for refuge in the European Union.
Lithuania this year received over 507 migrants, mostly Iraqi men, from Belarus, six times higher than last year’s number. Most of them arrived over the last three weeks.
Lithuanian border guards have been detaining groups of asylum seekers, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan, every day since then.
Authorities in Lithuania had to pitch dozens of heated tents in a makeshift migrant processing centre to accommodate the asylum seekers and are now considering building a wall with Belarus which will cost about €15 million.
Ingrida Simonyte, the Lithuanian prime minister, has publicly accused the Belarusian government of orchestrating what her country views as a migrant crisis.
Photo: epa03885037 Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. EPA/ALEXEY DRUGINYN / RIA NOVOSTI / KREMLIN POOL
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