The European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX will send more forces to Lithuania than originally planned. They will be deployed on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border where an increased flow of illegal migrants has recently been recorded.
“We are ready to send more FRONTEX standing corps and equipment to Lithuania. This will be done as a matter of urgency, more rapidly 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 Mr. 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; 46 illegal migrants were detained in 2019, 104 in 2018 and 72 in 2017.
"It must now be made very clear that that this is not a simple crisis of migrants, it is a targeted hybrid aggression, a response of an unfriendly state to EU sanctions following the hijacking of a passenger plane. Lithuania, due to its active political position, has become a target of the Belarusian regime, and therefore the measures to resolve this crisis must be appropriate and united, with the full EU assistance. We thank FRONTEX for its support and assistance at this difficult time for our country.” says Minister of the Interior, Ms. 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, for the purpose of enhancing the control of the Lithuanian-Belarus border, additional 60 border patrols, 30 cars, 2 helicopters and the thermal imaging equipment on a vehicle platform are needed for carrying out physical border protection and border surveillance. Lithuanian border guards will also be assisted by additional teams of debriefing experts and interpreters. They will collect information on the countries of origin of the detained illegal migrants, the circumstances of their journey and their purpose of travel and assist in the identification of detainees.
"As the situation on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border is constantly changing and illegal migrants are trying to find new routes, we have reviewed our previous needs. A decision was made to request more patrols and equipment needed 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 amount of FRONTEX human and technical resources to be sent to Lithuania will become clear after the completion of the coordination of logistical and other issues relating the operation on strengthening border security.
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 have been participating in a number of international operations and various training events coordinated by FRONTEX.
FRONTEX's tasks include assisting Member States in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational assistance at external borders and providing them with the necessary support in organizing joint return operations, etc.
The main tasks of FRONTEX are to coordinate operational cooperation between the EU Member States in the field of management of external borders, to assist the Member States on training of border guards and raising their skills and qualifications, to establish common training standards. The Agency also carries out risk analysis and follows up on the development of research relevant for the control and surveillance of external borders.