A barbed wire barrier that Lithuania is erecting along its border with Belarus may make it more difficult for people fleeing the regime to take refuge in the neighbouring country, Belarusian opposition activists in exile in Vilnius said on Wednesday.
The fence will help the regime to crack down on "inconvenient" people, they said.
"People might think Europe doesn't want them. Now they still have a chance to save themselves," Nataliya Kolegova, head of the NGO Dapamoga, said at a news conference in Vilnius, adding that the barrier will help the regime "to detain and kill people".
In an effort to stem an influx of migrants, which Lithuania says is being orchestrated by the Alexander Lukashenko regime, the government has decided to build a fence along the border. A barbed wire barrier is currently being erected, with a 550-kilometre wall to be built at a later stage.
Olga Zazulinskaya of the charity and support foundation Strana Dlya Zhizni described irregular migration as the Belarusian authoritarian leader's "main provocation" against Lithuania.
"He doesn't know how to fight the good Lithuanians who provide help to Belarusians," she told reporters. "He wants to build a wall with your hands; there's no money for that in Belarus."
"If Lithuania [.....] builds the wall, you'll help Lukashenko in the first place," she added.
Andrey Sharenda of the European Belarus movement, who has fled Belarus and applied for asylum in Lithuania, said the influx of migrants is an organised process and a fence will only reduce the load for some border guards while increasing it for others.
The man recounted his personal experience of crossing from Belarus into Lithuania.
On the Belarusian side, he found a camp in the border zone that is closed to anyone except the border guards. Undocumented migrants later crossed the border at the same place as he did, according to Sharenda.
The man said only a complete severance of economic ties could cripple the Lukashenko regime and stop the migration crisis it has triggered.
"Only this would make him respect human values; Belarus is turning into North Korea," he said.
More than 1,700 irregular migrants have been detained at Lithuania's border with Belarus this year so far, more than a 20-fold increase compared to the whole of 2020.