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2021.11.19 11:53

Lithuania's state of emergency – who can enter the border regions?

Jurga Bakaitė, LRT.lt2021.11.19 11:53

On Thursday, the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service (VSAT) allowed journalists to report from the Lithuanian border with Belarus, reversing its previous policy. Who can enter the emergency zone at the border and how?

Lithuania declared a state of emergency in its border region with Belarus on November 10. The emergency zone stretches five kilometres inland, and also covers the migrant accommodation facilities in Kybartai, Medininkai, Pabradė, Rukla, and Vilnius.

Media

Journalists are allowed to report staying 100 metres from the border, with the decision coming in force on Monday. Before, reporters could only stay one kilometre away from the border.

Before going to the border area, journalists must inform the spokespersons of the Interior Ministry and the VSAT of the exact time and place of their trip and obtain confirmation via email.

Journalists are still not allowed to visit the migrant accommodation facilities. The current law prohibits migrants from receiving and disseminating information, as well as from corresponding with people outside.

NGOs

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that provide humanitarian assistance to migrants can only enter the emergency zone if they have special permits.

According to Monika Alimienė, a spokesperson of the Lithuanian Red Cross, the organisation is only allowed to deliver humanitarian aid to the VSAT warehouses, but it cannot control when and how it reaches migrants.

The VSAT spokesperson Giedrius Mišutis said that the border guards can provide humanitarian assistance to migrants without assistance from NGOs.

“Border guards are provided with humanitarian packages, and those packages are distributed, if necessary,” Mišutis said.

Civilians

People living and studying in the border region do not need separate permits to enter the emergency zone.

Workers maintaining certain infrastructures, such as roads and communication lines, or carrying out functions of state and municipal institutions are also allowed to enter the border area.

Civilians can also enter the emergency zone to attend a funeral of a close relative, to look after a sick person, or to visit parents or close relatives upon individual request.

Read more: LRT English Newsletter: We have an emergency

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