MINSK, 6 May (BelTA) – Since the beginning of the year the State Border Committee of Belarus has noticed a certain increase in the number of migrants trying to illegally enter the European Union. As a rule, those are citizens from unstable regions plagued by armed conflicts or considerable economic problems, BelTA learned from Anton Bychkovsky, a spokesman of the State Border Committee of Belarus.
According to the source, illegal migration has been spurred to a considerable degree by some countries opening their borders and stepping down quarantine measures and by favorable weather. It is a common trend in the region, including in neighboring countries, Anton Bychkovsky said. In January-April 2021 the number of illegal migrants increased by more than two times (from 50 to 115) in comparison with the same period of last year and has already exceeded the total number of migrants registered in 2020. The situation is at its worst at the borders with Lithuania and Poland. For instance, the number of illegal migrants caught at the Belarusian-Lithuanian border this year has increased by more than 17 times – from 5 to 89.
The main category of migrants has changed. Cuban citizens represented most of the migrants in 2020 while Iraqi citizens represent over 70% this year.
The State Border Committee of Belarus takes systemic measures to suppress illegal transit migration. The border service has already closed 12 illegal migration channels this year. Five criminal cases have been opened on charges of organizing illegal migration channels, with ten organizers and accomplices apprehended.
According to Anton Bychkovsky, not only illegal migration is a threat to Belarus' border security. Taking into account the current situation the Belarusian border service focuses on preventing people, who are involved in the operation of extremist and terrorist organizations, from entering the country and focuses on fighting the smuggling of dangerous goods (weapons, illegal drugs). Anton Bychkovsky also mentioned that the Lithuanian border service uses different approaches to different migrants. The Lithuanian side initiates dialogues and negotiations in cases of illegal migrants. However, there is lack of communication with regard to various people, who have broken Belarusian border laws and continue staying in Lithuania after requesting asylum.
The Belarusian border service is taking measures to improve the protection of the Belarusian-Lithuanian border and fight illegal transit migration to the best of its capabilities. Within the framework of cooperation with Lithuanian colleagues the State Border Committee of Belarus is ready to further implement international technical aid projects, which will allow beefing up border security in this direction. An effective bilateral dialogue for the sake of discussing and resolving emerging problems would help the common cause, too.
Anton Bychkovsky stressed that the Belarusian border service takes every measure to properly protect the state border.