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2021.09.22 12:17

Lithuania allows migrants to request asylum at Belarus embassy

Augustas Stankevičius, BNS2021.09.22 12:17

As of Wednesday, migrants stranded in Belarus can submit asylum requests at Lithuania's embassy in Minsk.

Until now, migrants attempting to cross into Lithuanian from Belarus and pushed back by border guards were told to ask for asylum at border checkpoints.

“Foreigners' asylum requests can be lodged at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in the Republic of Belarus,” according to a document that came into force on Wednesday.

Interior Vice Minister Arnoldas Abramavičius said earlier that no one had applied for asylum at border checkpoints, as Belarusian officers would prevent migrants from reaching them.

“The Belarusian authorities or border services simply do not allow them [migrants] through border checkpoints. One thing is that they need to have ID documents. The other thing is that, in that case, the [Belarusian] regime would show that they are the cause of the illegal migration,” he said.

Lithuania introduced push-backs in early August in response to a spike in irregular migrants entering the country's territory from Belarus. Around 2,200 people have been pushed back since then and around 80 people have been allowed to enter Lithuania, according to the Interior Ministry and the State Border Guard Service.

More than 4,100 migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year, mostly Iraqis. Vilnius has accused the Minsk regime of orchestrating migrant smuggling, calling it a hybrid attack against the EU.

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