| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Lithuania starts building first European wall to ward off migrants from Belarus

Since migrants from the Middle East and other parts of the world began entering Belarus this year, Lithuania has begun constructing the first stretches of a steel wall along its border with Belarus.

Belarus is accused by the European Union of encouraging migrants to enter EU countries Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia via Belarusian territory in order to exert pressure on the bloc.

Belarus has denied this on numerous occasions, but its president, Alexander Lukashenko, has stated that his country will no longer block migrants since EU sanctions are draining its finances.

To deter migrants, all three EU countries have installed razor wire along their borders. Lithuania started erecting the first parts of the 3.4-meter (11-foot) high steel fence, which will be topped with 0.6 meters (2 feet) of razor wire, last week.

“It’s probably impossible to construct an impenetrable barrier, therefore I believe this one can be overcome as well. However, that would take a long time, and we would be unable to respond “Virgilijus Raugale, the head boarder guard in southern Lithuania, said as much.

Lithuania has allocated 152 million euros to build 500 kilometers (300 miles) of the wall by September next year. The wall is supplemented by a 3-metre high heap of coiled razor wire next to it and video surveillance equipment.

More than 4,000 migrants entered Lithuania from Belarus this year before August, when the country resorted to sending almost all entering migrants back to Belarus. Over 5,600 migrants were prevented from entering since then, the border guard service said, including 2,300 who tried to enter in October.

Meanwhile the Polish Defense Ministry said on Thursday, that Belarusian soldiers threatened to open fire on Polish troops just across the border, in what it said was an attempt to escalate a crisis over migrants at their common frontier.

  • Reuters