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Detained migrant sits next to the Belarus-Latvia border near Vorzova Detained migrant sits next to the Belarus-Latvia border near Vorzova 

Lithuania and Latvia say no to migrants arriving via Belarus

Lithuania and Latvia move to stop migrants crossing their borders from Belarus.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Migrants attempting to enter Latvia were being met with military patrols on Wednesday, a day after the eastern European country declared a state of emergency along its border.

According to the Baltic News Service, border guards, armed forces and police will be authorized to instruct illegal immigrants to return to the country they came from, and use physical force if they refuse.

It also reports that some 283 people have been detained for illegally crossing into Latvia from Belarus since August 6, bringing the total for the year to 343 people.

The state of emergency runs from August 11 until November 10.

Lithuania deters entry

In neighbouring Lithuania, authorities have erected a fence to deter entry.

So far this year, 4,026 people have illegally crossed into Lithuania from Belarus, compared with 74 in total in 2020.

The Lithuanian parliament also voted to allow the military to patrol the border alongside frontier guards and to turn back people deemed to have crossed illegally.

Those wanting to claim asylum must now do so at an official border crossing or at an embassy.

Lithuania says Belarus allows migrants to make their way to the Lithuanian border after they have landed in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Tensions with Belarus

Both countries accuse Belarus of allowing migrants to cross illegally into their territories and of using the issue of migration to push the European Union to reverse sanctions imposed.

Poland, which has also seen an influx of migrants into its territory, says Belarus is retaliating against Warsaw's decision this week to give refuge to a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics.

In May of this year, Belarus decided to let migrants enter Lithuania in retaliation for EU sanctions imposed after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land on its soil and arrested a dissident blogger on board.

The majority of migrants come from Iraq, followed by the Republic of Congo and Cameroon.

11 August 2021, 14:15