2 refugee families escape from Refugee Reception Center in Lithuania

Lithuanian border guard at the border
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

“We’re talking about two young families that each have two small children. One of the families left and never came back, while the other was intercepted on the border and brought back to the refugee center,” Social Security and Labor Vice-Minister Algirdas Šesšelgis told news service of Lietuvos Rytas TV.

According to the report, both families had been relocated to Lithuania in mid-October.

Interior Minister Tomas Žilinskas confirmed to BNS that one of the families from Syria had been detained in Poland.

In Žilinskas’ words, the family was being transported by a Serbian national who has a residence permit in Germany. An investigation has been launched by Lithuanian border services, the Serbian man is in detention.

“In light of the fact that many human traffickers are of Serbian origin, we can suspect that they observe what countries the persons are relocated to from the refugee camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece, stay in contact with them and later attempt to contact after the relocation to finalize their deals and deliver them to their destination – Germany, Austria of Sweden,” said the minister.

Robertas Mikulėnas, director of the Refugee Reception Center, confirmed to BNS that an Iraqi family and a family from Syria without citizenship had left in early hours of Monday, adding that the Iraqis had been returned to Lithuania.

“Four individuals have returned form the border – they can travel within Lithuania. After a certain period of time, we reported about the other (missing) family to relevant services. We do not know their exact routes – we have suspended the integration program for now to work things out,” Mikulėnas told BNS.

He said the center’s territory was not enclosed, therefore, persons without an official refugee or additional security status can leave the premises. Šešelgis told BNS that the Migration Department had not yet decided on the status for these families, therefore, they could not legally cross the border but could travel within the Lithuanian territory.

“I cannot say whether they had agreed to leave or not. (…) They may have just tested whether it was possible to leave Lithuania,” said Mikulėnas, saying that they could have relatives or acquaintances in Western Europe.

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