The government of Belarus is being blamed for an increasing number of third-country migrants illegally entering Lithuania in recent weeks, according to reports.
A substantial uptick in migrant traffic across the border between the two countries has come after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko threatened to allow migrants and drugs to flood Europe amid fraying diplomatic relations with the E.U.
"We were stopping migrants and drugs - now you will catch them and eat them yourself," Lukashenko said during a speech to parliament in May.
Lithuanian officials say a steady stream of migrants are arriving aboard flights to Minsk and believe the Belarusian government may be helping them travel onwards to the tiny Baltic nation.
“There are flights from Baghdad to Minsk and from Istanbul to Minsk on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This means a total of four flights, which correlate with the waves of migration,” Laurynas Kasčiūnas, chairman of the parliament's Committee on National Security and Defence, said last week. “These flights basically bring people from Syria, Iraq. Four flights and 600 people."
"Of course, not all of them travel via Lithuania and not all of them are migrants. Hence we estimate 200 to 300 people per week, that’s the worst-case scenario.”
arrive to Belarus every week. The number of flights from Baghdad to Minsk doubled in the last month (from 2 to 4 per week + they replaced Boeing 737 with a larger 777). At Minsk airport no one checks the Iraqis who booked with Tsentrkurort, they automatically get entry visas. 3/4— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) June 12, 2021
Then they get to the border and Belarusian border guards help them to get to Lithuania. The service costs $3-6k. Middle Eastern students in Belarus say more and more people in Iraq and Syria are becoming aware of the new scheme and are planning to get to the EU via Belarus 4/4— Tadeusz Giczan (@TadeuszGiczan) June 12, 2021
Lithuania is now building a temporary migrant camp in Pabradė designed to hold up to 350 people and the government is considering declaring a state of emergency.
“What’s worrying is that when the Belarusian side is asked about illegal migrants on our side, we get answers that no, they don’t see anything,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite recently informed parliament.
“This is a sign that it’s a deliberate policy and deliberate actions against the Lithuanian state.”
The start of the G7 was the predictable embarrassment only Joe Biden could deliver.
(PHOTO: PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images)