Jul 3, 2021 - World

Lithuania declares state of emergency due to migration surge from Belarus

Lithuania State Border guard Vytautas Makauskas stands on patrol near the Lithuania-Belarus border line on June 21, 2021 near Poskonys, Lithuania.
Lithuania State Border guard stands on patrol near the Lithuania-Belarus border line on June 21 near Poskonys, Lithuania. Photo: Paulius Peleckis/Getty Images

Lithuania has declared a state of emergency due to an influx of migrants over the last few days from Belarus, AP reports.

The big picture: Lithuania’s Interior Minister Agle Bilotaite said Friday that the decision is not because of an increased threat to the country, but to implement a more robust system to handle migrants who are entering.

  • “It’s very important to have a legal system and instruments ... to be able to swiftly make decisions in response to arising challenges,” Bilotaite said, per AP.
  • The state of emergency comes after border officials reported Friday that they had detained about 150 immigrants who had crossed over from Belarus in one day, three times higher than the previous daily record.

State of play: Belarus' authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that he would retaliate against European Union sanctions on his regime by loosening border restrictions for undocumented migrants.

  • The EU imposed tighter sanctions against Belarus after the government f0rced a flight to divert and land and arrested a prominent journalist onboard.
  • 822 migrants crossing in from Belarus have been detained in Lithuania so far this year, per AP.

Go deeper: U.S. no longer recognizes Lukashenko as legitimate president of Belarus

Go deeper