Lithuania's military will send soldiers to protect migrant centres in order to reassure local residents who are reluctant to have asylum seekers housed near them.
“We have received a new request, we will definitely take that into account. The Interior Ministry has asked for the military to contribute to the protection and control of the place of temporary accommodation [of migrants],” Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas told reporters on Wednesday.
“By supplying people and equipment, the military will provide additional capacity for the protection of those places for local residents to feel safer,” he added.
Residents of the town of Dieveniškės, in the south-eastern corner of Lithuania, have been holding protests against accommodating migrants in a disused school.
According to Anušauskas, the military should protect 12 sites where migrants are housed, including frontier stations.
Anušauskas did not specify how many soldiers were currently assisting border guards.
“I can say that capacity is much higher than the capacity of other institutions involved in border protection,” the defence minister said.
Interior Minister Agne Bilotaitė has also made reassurances that security will be maintained at migrant centres.
“We have asked troops for additional assistance in protecting those premises as we really need it. Officers from our system are fully involved and when I hear criticism that we still have reserves, I just want to clearly say that all structures within the interior system are fully involved,” the minister told journalists.
“All those decisions are made for the public to feel safe,” Bilotaitė added.
Migrants crossing into Lithuania from Belarus are now accommodated at the Foreigners' Registration Centre in Pabradė, the Border Guards' School in Medininkai and at frontier stations.
A number of migrants have been housed in municipal buildings in Alytus City and Alytus District, as well as Lazdijai, Varėna and some other municipalities.