Destabilising the EU Border

Social Unrest as Lithuania Tries To Tackle the Flows of Irregular Migration from Belarus

29 July 2021

The tactics of Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s hybrid war waged against Lithuania seem to have caused considerable confusion in the Baltic state’s politics and society. The influx of thousands of migrants crossing the border from Belarus and the Government’s struggle to deal with the crisis have led to the amendment of a migration law that some deem unconstitutional while the border region local communities have mobilised to protest against accommodating the migrants near their towns.

The number of migrants detained illegally crossing the Lithuanian-Belarusian border this year has now surpassed 3,000, a number 37 times higher than last year’s total.

Over 2,000 migrants have been caught in the border regions in the last month alone, with daily numbers usually reaching a hundred and more. For a legal system which has never experienced migration flows on a scale this large, both human and infrastructural resources are being tested to the limit.

As reported before, the sanctions imposed on Belarus by the EU after the hijacking of the Ryanair flight in May has pushed Alyaksandr Lukashenka to retaliate by directing flows of migrants to the EU through the Lithuanian border. The Belarusian state-sponsored scheme promotes the opportunity of entering the EU to the citizens of countries in Africa and the Middle East by easily granting them Belarusian visas and then organising illegal routes through the Lithuanian border.

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Valdonė Šniukaitė

Visegrad Insight’s Junior Fellow currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Politics and Sociology at UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. In her studies, Valdonė focuses on the Baltic states’ foreign policy towards Russia and its informal practices in the Baltics.

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