Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė had a phone call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday evening to discuss the situation at the EU’s border with Belarus.
According to the government’s press release, Šimonytė told von der Leyen that the Belarusian authorities have “cleansed” of irregular migrants and directed them towards Poland.
“What Belarusian security forces do is a crime against humanity. The European Union must demand that Belarus cooperate with the UN and international organisations, and allow the governments of the countries of origin to return their citizens to their countries. First of all, to Iraq. These people have not only been instrumentalised, but have also fallen hostage,” Šimonytė is quoted in the statement.
The European Commission and the United Nations “should assist Iraq in carrying out a humanitarian operation through repatriation flights from Belarus”, according to the prime minister.
Šimonytė also called on the EU to “speed up the sanctioning of participants in the illegal migrant smuggling scheme created by the Lukashenko regime – individuals, tourism companies, airlines, Belarus’ airport authorities, and the ground handling services company”.
“All of them are part of the scheme,” she said.
Polish forces on Monday repelled an attempt by migrants to force their way across the border from Belarus. Officials said hundreds of migrants sought to enter the country.
Over 4,200 irregular migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus so far this year. Another 6,000 have been turned away after border guards started pushbacks in August.
Vilnius has accused Minsk of orchestrating migrant smuggling, calling it “hybrid aggression”.