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Frontex vows additional assistance for Lithuania

July 11, 2021

Lithuania has seen a sharp rise of migrants entering its territory, with most of them originally coming from Africa and the Middle East. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is suspected of causing the surge.

Lithuania-Belarus border
The Lithuanian government has accused Belarus of using migration as a weapon Image: Paulius Peleckis/Getty Images

EU border agency Frontex said Saturday it would ramp up its support for Lithuania next week, as the country deals with an increase in migrants crossing its border.

The agency vowed to deploy more officers and patrol cars to secure Lithuania's border. 

What will Frontex do?

"We are ready to strengthen our level of support and deploy more European standing corps officers and equipment. We are speeding up and beefing up what was already planned," Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said in a statement. "And in close cooperation with the Lithuanian authorities we are preparing furthermore a Rapid Border Intervention."

"Lithuania's border is our common external border and Frontex stands ready to help where needed," Leggeri added.

The Lithuanian government said 1,500 migrants have been detained so far as of Friday, with many of them coming from the Middle East and Africa. 

Lithuania building barrier on border with Belarus

Lithuania announced Friday that it would build a wall on its border with Belarus to stem migration. Vilnius has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of causing the surge and has declared a state of emergency in Lithuania.

Lukashenko threatened the EU with mass migration last week in response to sanctions imposed by Europe.

European Council President Charles Michel recently visited the Lithuanian border, and said the EU would not be "intimidated" by Lukashenko's threats.

Tensions have been high between the EU and Lukashenko following the state-sponsored hijacking of a Ryanair flight over Belarus in May. Lukashenko ordered the plane to land in Minsk in order to arrest Belarusian opposition journalist Raman Pratasevich.

Lithuania is the home of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a Belarusian opposition politician who ran against Lukashenko in last year's elections. She fled Belarus following the elections and claims Lukashenko's victory was illegitimate.

wd/aw (AFP, dpa)