Lithuanian FM: Belarus using refugees as 'hybrid weapon against EU'

The Lithuanian foreign minister has said that refugees crossing the border from Belarus are "a hybrid weapon being used against the European Union" to try to force the EU to drop sanctions against Belarus introduced after Lukashenko's election 'victory' last year, and the state's repression of protests that followed.


"Lithuanian FM: Belarus using refugees as 'hybrid weapon against EU'

Gabrielius Landsbergis tells DW that Minsk is shuttling refugees from Iraq to Lithuania to exact revenge for sanctions. He warned that the EU could see "waves of refugees" if the practice is not stopped.

Lithuania's Gabrielius Landsbergis, in Brussels for a meeting of EU foreign ministers, told DW that Belarus was using refugees from war-torn countries as "human shields" in an attempt to force the European Union to ease sanctions.

"This is a hybrid weapon being used against the European Union" to force the bloc to change policy towards Belarus.

Landsbergis claims that his country has "concrete evidence of Belarusian border guards who facilitate the travel of groups of refugees or even try to disguise their foot prints on the ground."

The foreign minister's warning comes days after Vilnius declared a state of emergency over the issue and began construction on a 550-kilometer (320-mile) razor-wire fence to cope with the rush of new arrivals. 

Authorities in Vilnius also said on Monday that they would open a new camp to house some 500 migrants in response to the new arrivals.  

Vilnius claims Minsk actively facilitating travel from Iraq to EU

Lithuania says most of the people arriving at its border are from Iraq, accusing Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of orchestrating the crisis, for instance, by facilitating direct flights from Baghdad to Minsk.

More than 1,600 migrants have illegally entered Lithuania from Belarus this year — 20 times the number of people who arrived in all of 2020. More than 1,000 of those arrivals have occurred over the past two weeks, according to Lithuania's border guard service."

Source: InfoMigrants, 13 July 2021

 

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