Belarussian refugees in Lithuania reach for Western Europe

Despite a court order protecting asylum seekers, those fleeing Russia’s ally still face many obstacles on their road to Central Europe.

Despite the low number of migrants at refugee camps, Belarus continues to battle the problem of those trying to cross the border into Lithuania.

Last month, the Constitutional Court in Lithuania ruled that detaining foreign asylum seekers for more than six months without the possibility of free movement and without a court’s detention order is unconstitutional. 

“When the migration wave in 2021 started, people were automatically detained in these centres without the right to free movement,” explained Emilija Svobaite from  Sienos Grupė, a voluntary organisation providing humanitarian aid to migrants in Lithuania. “So the Constitutional Court said that it was unconstitutional, meaning that all these people who lived in the camps, now, they can claim for financial damages.” 

There are currently 132 people in this centre for foreigners: both those for whom a court order on detention has been issued and those, like B. Bart, who can enjoy more freedom while waiting for an asylum decision. 

“Two days after my wedding, some people came, political people. They attacked my home and threatened me. Twice they attacked me, I was not safe in Sri Lanka. So after one week of being married, I went to Uzbekistan and stayed there for two months,” B.Bart, from Sri Lanka, told Euronews.

“Then I went to Belarus and then after six months crossed a forested area and crossed the border to Lithuania,” he added.

B. Bert wants to stay in Lithuania and hopefully bring his wife, but many asylum seekers try to go further West. More than 1,500 people have been revealed this year alone in EU countries other than those where they applied for protection. 

“Last week, 22 new people arrived at our centre, mostly from the Latvian border, illegally crossed from the Latvian and Belarusian border, but we try to send them back to Latvia. The majority of our clients, who get the possibility to leave freely from our centre, they escape from Lithuania, and travel to other countries in central Europe,” said Aleksandras Kislovas, head of the Foreigners Registration Center in Pabrade, Lithuania.

Although many people who apply for asylum in the Baltic countries will try to reach Western Europe, many will be turned back under the Dublin agreements.

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