Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis will visit Iraq today to discuss cracking down on Iraqi illegal migration to the European
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis will visit Iraq today to discuss cracking down on Iraqi illegal migration to the European Union.
Iraqi migration to Lithuania has surged this year, topping 1,500 migrants compared to last year’s 81. Reports from the migrants indicate that they are smuggled through Minsk, stripped of their passports, and sent over the forested Belarus-Lithuania border.
Lithuania accuses Belarus of encouraging this smuggling route as part of a retaliation for EU-imposed sanctions on Belarus following human rights abuses and the forced landing of a Ryanair flight earlier this year. Belarus is likely attempting to use this large influx of migrants to destabilize Lithuania and force sanction relief on some of its critical industries.
Large influxes of migrants are clogging the Lithuanian court system, forcing deportations and drawing international accusations of Lithuanian human rights abuses. Iraq, so far, has pledged a probe into the smuggling networks. In the short-term, Iraq and Lithuania will likely successfully establish a repatriation mechanism for Iraqi migrants to Lithuania, which will reduce the number of migrants Lithuania needs to accommodate. In the medium-term, failure to stop the exodus of Iraqi migrants will likely cause the EU to capitulate on sanctions to stabilize Lithuania.
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