Frontex, the European Border and Coastguard Agency, says it is sending more officers and vehicles to Lithuania to help the EU-member State patrol its border with Belarus.
“European standing corps teams already help the country with border control and surveillance,” Frontex said in a communique on Saturday. “The operation, which started with the deployment of a dozen officers and patrol cars, will more than double in size next week.”
Early last week, Lithuania announced that it would erect a barrier on its border with Belarus, and that the army would conduct patrols to dissuade clandestine immigration from the neighbouring country. Frontex will send experts to the country to help the authorities to collect data on illegal border crossings and exchange operational information.
“We are ready to strengthen our level of support and deploy more European standing corps officers and equipment. We are speeding up and beefing up what was already planned. And in close cooperation with the Lithuanian authorities, we are preparing furthermore a Rapid Border Intervention,” Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said.
“Lithuania’s border is our common external border and Frontex stands ready to help where needed,” he added.
Lithuania has a 680-km border with Belarus. In June, the number of illegal crossings from Belarus into Lithuania rose six-fold, increasing the pressure on national border control authorities, Frontex stated.
The influx prompted the EU-member State to declare a state of emergency in early July.
Lithuanian politicians have long complained that Belarus uses asylum-seekers to put pressure on its neighbour.
The Brussels Times