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2021.10.08 17:00

Sudden drop in migrant numbers ‘worrying’, says Lithuanian border chief

BNS2021.10.08 17:00

A sudden drop in the number of migrants attempting to enter Lithuania from Belarus is worrying, Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT), said on Friday.

Over the past 24 hours, the country pushed back only one person attempting to enter the country irregularly from Belarus.

“I would be very much willing to believe that it is a natural process, that the situation at the border is truly stable,” Liubajevas told BNS on Friday. “However, such a situation where those flows drop to just one person in one day cannot but worry any professional.”

“We do not have any special data available but it’s not yet time to relax, we must continue monitoring the situation. We must be ready for any kind of event,” he added.

Read more: Dozen EU countries call on Brussels to fund border walls, 'legalise' pushbacks

The number of pushbacks on Friday was the smallest since late June. In addition, it was in stark contrast to recent weeks during which the numbers ranged from several dozens to 100 per day.

Lithuania, Latvia and Poland have faced a drastic increase in irregular migration from Belarus since summer. Nearly 4,200 migrants, mostly Iraqi citizens, have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year.

Both Lithuania and the European Union accuse the Belarusian regime of orchestrating the migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression" in retaliation for EU sanctions against Minsk imposed after the regime’s crackdown on opposition.

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