2021.11.30 10:39

Frontex wraps up rapid border intervention mission in Lithuania

Augustas Stankevičius, BNS2021.11.30 10:39

The EU's border agency Frontex is concluding its four-and-a-half-month Rapid Border Intervention mission in Lithuania on Tuesday.

The EU's border guards were deployed to Lithuania in mid-July in response to a surge in irregular migrant crossings from Belarus.

Read more: Migration crisis in Baltics and Poland

“Some of the border guards are leaving [...], but others will stay as part of the operation Flexible Operational Activities that is starting on December 1,” Rustamas Liubajevas, the commander of the State Border Guard Service (VSAT), told BNS.

The operation is scheduled to run until the end of January, but is likely to be extended, he added.

The new Frontex mission on the Lithuanian border is expected to involve up to 40 EU border guards, down from just over 100 deployed to the country until now.

According to Liubajevas, Lithuania asked the agency for a smaller force in light of the improving situation.

“Most of them are border protection experts,” he said. “We have also asked for mobile border protection systems and helicopters, but Frontex's member states have not made any proposals yet. We hope that such countries will come forward during the course of the operation.”

The border guard chief expects that the shortage of equipment will not be a problem, because Lithuania will be able to use its own helicopter more often as Frontex will cover its operating costs.

“We don't see any risks. We have an increasing number of stationary monitoring systems. We also have mobile monitoring systems,” he said. “We see no major problems.”

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year, and over 7,600 more have been turned away by border guards.

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