EU gives Lithuania millions to deal with influx of migrants entering from Belarus, but Vilnius says it needs a lot more
The Lithuanian government has received €29.6 million ($34.2 million) of its allocated aid from the European Commission to help tackle Vilnius’ influx of migrants seeping in from neighboring Belarus.
On Friday, Vilnius’ Interior Ministry confirmed it had received the bulk of its whopping €37 million Brussels payout, saying the rest of the funds would reach the Baltic nation at a later date.
Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said the stipend was “intended to cover the costs incurred by Lithuania in the management of irregular migration and to ensure the provision of basic services to migrants who have entered” the country.
The funds will be used to finance the expenses of accommodation services, security at the migrant camps, food and education, as well as reception and detention facilities, asylum procedures and other essential programs.
A proportion of the multi-million-euro sum will also be used as salary supplements for personnel working in the refugee centers.
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In a statement in August, Bilotaite said Brussels had granted some €37 million to Vilnius “to meet immediate needs,” but announced Lithuania intended to apply for additional financial support in September it requires more funds from the EU.
Bilotaite, however, revealed the country needs €500 million alone for the installation of a fence and monitoring system to combat the waves of illegal migration seeping in from its frontier with Belarus.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis lashed out at Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko in July, accusing him of using vulnerable migrants, largely from Iraq, as a “political weapon” and declaring that “pushing people against the borders, is unacceptable.” He also called on the bloc to impose a fresh round of embargoes on Minsk.
Belarus’ embattled leader, however, has said Minsk does not have the capacity to thwart migrants’ movements into the European Union as it has “neither the money nor the strength” from being economically crippled by financial penalties.
More than 4,100 migrants have reportedly crossed the Lithuanian-Belarusian border so far this year.
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