They will be located on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border, where an increased flow of illegal migrants has recently been recorded.
“We are ready to send more FRONTEX permanent corps officers and equipment to Lithuania. This will be done as a matter of urgency, faster than planned, and the forces will be more plentiful. In cooperation with the responsible Lithuanian authorities, the Rapid Border Intervention mechanism will be activated, ”says Fabrice Leggeri, Executive Director of FRONTEX.
This year, a total of 1,666 illegal migrants were detained on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border . That number is more than twenty times higher than it was throughout 2020. Last year, 81 such aliens were detained. 2019 46 illegal migrants were caught by border guards in 2018; – 104, 2017 – 72.
“We need to be very clear that this is not a simple crisis of migrants, it is a targeted hybrid aggression, a response from a state unfriendly to us to EU sanctions following the hijacking of a passenger plane. Lithuania has become a target of the Belarusian regime due to its active political position, therefore the measures to resolve this crisis must be appropriate and united, with the full help of the EU. We thank FRONTEX for its support and assistance during this difficult period for our country, ”says Minister of the Interior Agnė Bilotaitė.
Instead of the 30 FRONTEX officers previously requested, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) has already provided the Agency with an adjusted need. At present, 60 patrols to carry out physical border protection and surveillance, 30 cars, two helicopters and a car with thermal imaging equipment are requested to be used to strengthen the security of the Lithuanian-Belarusian border. Lithuanian border guards will also be assisted by additional teams of survey specialists with translators. They will collect information on the countries of origin of detained illegal migrants, travel circumstances and purposes, and assist in the identification of detainees.
“As the situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border constantly changes and illegal migrants try to find new ways, we have reviewed our previous needs. A decision was made to request more patrols and equipment to strengthen the protection of the eastern border of the country. It is gratifying that FRONTEX reacted swiftly and decided to activate the Rapid Border Intervention Mechanism. This is the first case in the entire history of the agency, when the Rapid Border Intervention mechanism is applied not at the southern borders of the European Union, but at the eastern border of the community, ”notes the SBGS Commander General Rustamas Liubajevas.
The exact number of FRONTEX personnel and technical means to be sent to Lithuania will become clear after the completion of the coordination of logistical and other issues of the border security strengthening operation.
The SBGS has been actively cooperating with FRONTEX and has been supporting its activities since the establishment of the Agency in 2004. Lithuanian border guards themselves participate in many international operations and training of officers coordinated by FRONTEX.
FRONTEX’s tasks include assisting EU Member States in cases where operational and technical support is needed at the Community’s external borders, when joint return operations need to be organized, and so on.
The objectives of FRONTEX are also to coordinate the cooperation of the EU Member States in the field of external border management, to help the Member States to train border guards, to improve their qualifications, to establish common training requirements. The Agency also carries out risk analysis and monitors the development of research related to the control of external borders.
Image: With the recent increase in the flow of illegal migrants trying to enter Lithuania, the State Border Guard Service publishes statistics on detained aliens.