Paying for the Trouble
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Lithuania is demanding more than $130 million in compensation from neighboring Belarus after accusing its neighbor of orchestrating the immigration of thousands of people during the migrant crisis in 2021, the Associated Press reported.
In 2021, the European Union experienced a surge in the number of migrants – primarily from Africa and the Middle East – attempting to enter the 27-nation bloc through Belarus.
At the time, the EU had imposed sanctions on Belarus and its authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko over his brutal crackdown on anti-government protests that swept the country following the 2020 Belarusian presidential elections.
Lukashenko was declared the winner of those polls but the opposition decried the results and demanded new elections.
Then, Lithuania and other EU countries accused Belarus of organizing the illegal passage of migrants from war-torn and impoverished countries into the bloc in retaliation for the sanctions, according to NPR.
Last week, Vilnius issued a diplomatic note to Belarus, saying that the compensation is to cover the cost paid by Lithuania to host the migrants and shore up its border.
Since mid-2021, Lithuania has denied entry to a total of 20,000 migrants from Belarus. The government granted Lithuanian border guards the authority to turn away migrants in August 2021.
Lithuania erected a barbed wire fence along its 422-mile border with Belarus after thousands of migrants crossed into its territory in 2021.