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Belarus to shut border as Lithuania turns away migrants

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — The president of Belarus on Thursday ordered the nation’s safety forces to tighten management over the border with Lithuania, which earlier this week began turning away immigrants trying to cross in from Belarus.

Lithuania, a member of the European Union, has confronted a surge of principally Iraqi migrants up to now few months. It says that’s on account of retaliation by Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko after the EU put sanctions on his nation over diverting a aircraft to the capital of Minsk and arresting a dissident aboard.

The surge of Iraqis and others is rising as one other supply of stress between autocratic Belarus and its European neighbors to the west. On Tuesday, Lithuania stated it reserved the fitting to make use of power to cease such unlawful immigration and turned away 180 individuals trying to enter the nation.

Lukashenko on Thursday ordered protection and safety businesses to “shut each meter of the border” so as to not let immigrants Lithuania turns away again into Belarus.

“God forbid they begin implementing the coverage of eradicating individuals they invited over there by official border crossing factors,” Lukashenko stated throughout a gathering with protection and safety officers. “Ranging from right now, not a single particular person ought to set foot on the territory of Belarus from the adjoining aspect, be it from the south or from the west,” he added.

Authorities in Belarus this week alleged that Iraqi immigrants forcibly expelled from Lithuania to Belarus had accidents, together with canine bites, and needed to be hospitalized. Belarus additionally claimed Wednesday {that a} “non-Slavic” particular person died from accidents at a border city however Lithuania dismissed the report as propaganda from a hostile regime.

Protection Minister Arvydas Anusauskas referred to as the report “an apparent provocation. Lithuania is beneath hybrid assault and spreading such data is a traditional instance of this course of.”

Lithuania, a nation of lower than 3 million individuals, has no bodily limitations on its 679-kilometer (420-mile) lengthy border with Belarus. Some 4,090 migrants, most of them from Iraq, have crossed this yr from Belarus into Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Inside Ministry this week distributed a video shot from a helicopter displaying massive teams of immigrants being escorted to Lithuania’s border by Belarusian border guard autos.

Polish media report that some migrants have additionally sought to enter EU member Poland from Belarus, although on a lesser scale.

The Belarusian State Border Committee charged on Thursday that Lithuania “continues to power migrants to trespass the Belarusian border” and reported an try and “aggressively take away eight migrants … to the Belarusian territory,” thwarted by Belarusian border guards.

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