The problem intensified on the Lithuanian-Belarus border related to the influx of illegal immigrants into Lithuania at the end of May. The government in Vilnius considers it a form of mixed warfare waged by the authorities in Minsk.
The head of the investigative department of the LRT, Indre Makaraityte, told Radio Swoboda about the results of the journalistic investigation into the migration route to Lithuania. As Radio Swoboda notes, the number of illegal immigrants flowing into Lithuania has increased several times after the imposition of EU sanctions on the Alyaksandr Lukashenka regime, which already in May threatened Europe with a deliberate weakening of immigration control.
Makaretit says Lithuania has never faced such an influx of illegal immigrants before. All of them are requesting political asylum. This means that long actions are triggered and until they end with a positive or negative answer, these people need protection and help in some way, give money, integrate. Even if the answer is no, they can appeal and wait,” he says. He estimates that these procedures could take about a year. Lithuania simply does not have the infrastructure to ensure shelter for all these people. There are nearly 2,000 of them now. (…) There are families with children – he says.
The journalists were able to find out what the immigrants from Iraq eventually looked like in Lithuania. Makaraityte says that those who want to leave simply buy a flight and get a tourist visa to Belarus. They stay in three and five star hotels in Minsk. They stay there for 3-4 days, then a Belarusian guide comes to them, brings them to the border and leaves them there, saying: “Europe exists.” According to McCaretti, the guides tell the migrants that there will be a car waiting for them on the other side of the border that will take them directly to Germany. The $15,000 package includes a route from Kurdistan to Germany.
“From 6000 to 15,000 dollars – this is the price of the trip to the Lithuanian border, which was provided by the guides of migrants interviewed by LRT workers in Iraq. They promised that after their arrival in Lithuania there would be no problems with traveling to other EU countries” – we read on the Lithuanian TV portal .
According to the LRT, the Lukashenka system “earns money not only from visas, accommodation in Minsk hotels, travel, but also deposits,” the LRT wrote.
According to Makaretti, the Belarusian state-owned tour operator, which operates flights from Iraq to Belarus, has an agreement with Iraq that each buyer of the trip must leave a deposit in Iraq in the amount of 3-4 thousand. dollars if he does not return from Belarus. If the person does not return, the deposit is transferred to the State of Belarus as an authorization through the Belarusian Consulate in Baghdad. – We counted that there are already almost 900 illegal immigrants from Iraq in Lithuania, so the Belarusian regime received at least 2 million euros in this scheme – says the journalist.
As he notes, Lithuania is not their final destination – they are going to Germany or Scandinavia. – But according to the law, the first EU country on its way is obligated to do so in a way that does not go deep into the EU – he points out. It also notes that Lithuania cannot deport these people to Belarus because Minsk has announced its withdrawal from the EU readmission agreement.
McCarretti stresses that deportation is only possible to the countries they came from. – There are many problems with it, because there are no direct flights from Vilnius to Baghdad or Tehran. There are flights to Istanbul, but the deportation procedure by third countries is very long and complicated, he explains.
The editor notes that the number of illegal immigrants crossing the Lithuanian border from Belarus has decreased in recent days. According to her, through word of mouth, residents of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries from which people are trying to get to the European Union learn about the unsatisfactory conditions for the stay of immigrants in Lithuania.
We realize that not everyone who is coming is a political refugee, many of them are economic migrants. Makaraityte says it’s “live meat” in hybrid warfare. He also notes that human rights defenders point out that among the arrivals there are also people fleeing the regime in their country.