Most illegal migrants are not interested in life in Lithuania; their destination is W. Europe

Detained illegal immigrant on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Photo Min of Interior of Lithuania

Hundreds of foreigners have fled their accommodation in Lithuania since the country stopped restricting the movement of illegal migrants. According to a press release, this shows that foreigners who crossed the border illegally last year are not interested in staying, living and working in Lithuania and that the asylum procedure has simply been abused.

According to the Joint Situations Centre (JSC) summary, fewer than 1 400 illegal migrants currently live in the five Alien Registration Centres. In July this year, more than 800 foreigners registered in Lithuania did not return to their accommodation, while in June, about 500 cases of absconding were recorded. Although the alien registration certificate issued to migrants registered in Lithuania does not give them the right to leave Lithuania or to apply for asylum and residence in another EU country, most illegal migrants who leave the accommodation centres still try to reach other EU countries. They are later returned to Lithuania if they are detained in another EU country.

According to the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Arnoldas Abramavičius, this trend confirms the insights already identified by Lithuanian institutions and services that the main destination of illegal migrants is not asylum in Lithuania but rather the more prosperous countries of Western Europe. Out of more than 4,000 migrants who entered our country illegally, only 138 have been granted asylum and started the integration process, while all others will have to be returned to their countries of origin.

“For the Belarusian regime, as the mastermind of this illegal migration crisis, migrants have been a tool to create chaos in our country, in neighbouring countries, and in the European Union as a whole. Lured by the ‘easy’ access to Western Europe offered by Lukashenko, they became hostages of the Belarusian regime and were used in a hybrid attack. The rapid decline of migrants in the country’s accommodation centres in recent months only confirms that most illegal migrants did not actually seek asylum in Lithuania. Still, Lithuania was just a stopover in their search for a better life in the West. However, our message is clear and remains the same – the border between Lithuania and the EU is closed to illegal migration”, says the Deputy Minister of the Interior.

Deputy Minister Abramavičius and border and police officials met with local communities in Pabradė, Kybartai and Rukla, where illegal migrants are hosted. With the lifting of movement restrictions for many migrants, the public security situation has remained stable and safe for the local population. So far, no serious incidents have been reported, and representatives of the accommodation centres, police and border guards are working closely with the communities.

Until 22 September, illegal migrants still have the possibility to return to their countries of origin voluntarily with a payment of €1,000. Since the start of the illegal migration crisis, some 1,040 foreigners have voluntarily returned to their countries of origin, including 670 this year. A further 20 foreigners have now expressed their wish to return to their countries of origin.

11 000 illegal attempts to cross our borders at unauthorised locations were stopped during the year. Although the hybrid attack organised by the Belarusian regime using illegal migrants has been largely repelled, sporadic attempts to cross the border illegally are observed almost daily.

Currently, we are again witnessing an increase in illegal migration from Belarus, whose border guards are bringing migrants to the Lithuanian state border and redirecting them to places where there is no physical barrier yet. Foreigners attempt to cross the state border illegally both in large groups (25-35 persons) and individually. Recently, citizens of Syria, Iran, Tajikistan and other countries, and Afghanistan, have been crossing the state border illegally with increasing frequency. Today, 109 attempts of illegally crossing the border were registered, the largest attempt this year.

Currently, the Lithuanian-Belarusian border is about 353 km long, with about 493 km of physical barriers in place.

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