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Barefoot migrants pushed by Belarus throughout Lithuanian border, says minister

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Belarus is pushing migrants throughout the Lithuanian border barefoot in a bid to exert stress on the nation, Lithuania’s authorities mentioned on Wednesday. 

Inside Minister Agne Bilotaitė advised reporters that 9 folks had been discovered with out sneakers, and with out correct winter garments, including that two migrants had been hospitalised. 

This follows experiences {that a} Sri Lankan man misplaced his leg and 5 toes to frostbite after being trapped in no- man’s land between Belarus and Lithuania earlier this month. 

Since 2021, Lithuania and Belarus have ping-ponged migrants backwards and forwards throughout one another’s borders, following geo-political tensions between the 2.

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Most of the migrants — principally from the Center East and South East Asia — had been reportedly purposefully dropped at Belarus, which the EU has accused of engineering the disaster in response to sanctions. 

Severe concern’

In a press release, Bilotaitė mentioned making an attempt to cross the border barefoot wouldn’t be ample grounds for entry into Lithuania, or for asylum. 

“The truth that folks arrive on the border barefoot is not going to be a purpose to allow them to in,” she mentioned. 

“Our message is that such makes an attempt is not going to be a purpose to enter Lithuania.”

4 of the 9 people taken to hospital had been provided the possibility to use for asylum. 

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Lithuanian border forces have been accused of repeatedly pushing again migrants making an attempt to cross its border with Belarus, typically violently. 

As soon as on the opposite aspect, Belarussian authorities sometimes pressure them again once more. 

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Tons of of individuals are considered presently trapped between the 2 nations and have arrange camp in sub-zero temperatures. 

Hundreds of migrants have been affected, help teams say. 

“They’re intentionally stored there, not launched. They aren’t supplied with [warm clothes], they don’t seem to be accustomed to winter circumstances,” mentioned Bilotaitė. 

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Critics of the Lithuanian authorities have urged the nation to soak up a few of these caught on the border and consider their asylum claims. 

Different migrants are caught between Belarus’s borders with Latvia and Poland, the place a number of are reported to have died. 

No deaths have been recorded in Lithuania or Latvia. 

Belarus has ‘actively broken’ the border

A excessive variety of Belarusian border officers have been noticed on the border, mentioned Lithuania’s inside minister. 

Bilotaitė accused Belarus of sabotaging the Lithuanian border in its bid to assist these sneaking by way of the border.

“They not solely proceed to push migrants into Lithuania but in addition actively harm the bodily barrier, significantly the place border monitoring methods haven’t but been put in,” she mentioned. 

“Unlawful migrants additionally attempt to harm the bodily barrier on their very own. In whole, the variety of bodily limitations broken is 433 instances.”

Social media movies purportedly present Belarusian border guards slicing fences and escorting migrants by way of Lithuania’s border fence. 

She pressured that officers on the border had been taking all of the wanted measures to keep away from humanitarian points on the border, alongside offering help. 

In accordance with the figures supplied by the Ministry of Inside Affairs, a complete of 10,549 unlawful migrants had been detained on their approach getting into illegally to Lithuania. 

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Earlier this 12 months, the nation put in a steel fence which explains the size of 550 km of the border with Belarus. 

Lithuania introduced that by the top of 2022 it should full the set up of high-tech monitoring methods.

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