Tue, 18 Jan 2022

Lithuanian lawmakers have extended the state of emergency at the Baltic nation's border with Belarus and at camps hosting migrants who arrived from there as it tries to stem the flow of people into the European Union through the bloc's eastern flank.

The measure approved by the Seimas, Lithuania's parliament, extends the state of emergency in place within 10 kilometers of the border and in migrant camps until January 14.

The goal of the measure is to 'prevent possible provocations at border checkpoints' the Interior Ministry said.

Belarus is engaged in a bitter diplomatic standoff with the West over Alyaksandr Lukashenka's crackdown on dissent since a disputed election in 2020 and what the European Union has called his 'weaponization' of Middle Eastern migrants to create a crisis on Belarus's border with EU members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

The European Union, United States, and other Western powers last week imposed a fifth round of sanctions on Lukashenka and his elites over alleged rights and other abuses.

So far, more than 4,200 migrants have entered Lithuania this year.

Many of the thousands of Iraqis and other migrants from the Middle East hoping to travel to the West remain camped out in Belarus near the border.

Belarusian sources have said thousands have already been flown back to the Middle East since Turkey and other countries began cooperating more closely to thwart Minsk's alleged efforts to ship in migrants to put pressure on the EU border in retaliation for the sanctions.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036

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